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Turkish clubs face possible collapse as TV rights bids fall short

Some of Turkey’s top football clubs could face financial ruin after cancellation of a tender for rights to broadcast all the country’s top-tier matches next season because bids fell short of expectations.

The top bid of $150 million, from current rights holders BeIN Media Group and Digiturk, was rejected by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) as too low.

“Due to the fact that this amount is lower than the price of broadcasting rights for the 2021-2022 football season … the offer could not be accepted,” the TFF said in a statement, adding that clubs also declared the offer unacceptable.

Qatari broadcaster BeIN is now considering whether to make an offer for a little more than half the games in the 2022-23 season for 810 million lira ($58 million), with a final decision expected on March 7, a company spokesperson said.

March 7 is the deadline set by TFF to make bids for the other packages in the tender.

BeIN said the size of its offer reflected a much weaker Turkish lira and rampant broadcasting piracy. The lira weakened 44% against the dollar last year and inflation soared to near 50% in January.

A 2021 investigation by BeIN found there were as many as two people illegally watching Turkish games for every person with a subscription.

No other company bid for the broadest package on offer.

Clubs could collapse
The second-largest package includes broadcasting rights to only 210 matches out of the season’s total of 380.

“It’s like buying a house without a living room,” a source close to the matter said, adding that it was unclear if the broadcasters would be granted rights to the most important matches.

Digiturk, a subsidiary of BeIN, is the leading pay-TV operator in Turkey with about 3.5 million subscribers.

“So now Digiturk has a week to decide, knowing exactly what the market value is,” the source said.

“Digiturk now sees the market value as very low. If they pull out, Turkish football’s value is $100 million at most – clubs could collapse.”

Turkey’s heavily indebted clubs, including Istanbul’s Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, depend on income from the broadcast rights to manage their finances.

The top four clubs, which also include Besiktas and Trabzonspor, signed debt-restructuring deals with banks last year and in November owed a total of $750 million, more than three times their annual revenue.

Four companies, including state broadcaster TRT made lira-denominated bids for one or more of the eight packages offered by the sport’s national governing body. Saran Medya, owned by Istanbul-based Saran Group, also made bids. Cyprus Mail

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