MILAN May 7 Italy's Serie A soccer clubs have
signed a contract with Swiss-based agency Infront that
guarantees them at least 6 billion euros ($8.4 billion) in
income from television rights for the next six seasons, Infront
said on Wednesday.
Infront will now negotiate a deal with the television
companies for the rights to broadcast matches, which are shared
between clubs and make well over half of their annual income.
In the next few days, Infront, which has held the contract
since 2009, will set up packages of rights that will be sold
through a tender process, it said in a statement.
"We are aware that we face big challenges but we are certain
we will achieve the goals we have set ourselves," Infront Italy
Chairman Marco Bogarelli said in the statement.
In the 1990s Italy's showcase Serie A was widely seen as the
most attractive league in Europe, but it now suffers from
chronic crowd violence, half-empty stadiums, racism and
deteriorating performances by its teams in European
Mediaset, the TV company of former Italian prime
minister Silvio Berlusconi who also owns Serie A club AC Milan,
and Sky Italia, a unit of Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century
Fox Inc, are expected to make offers for the rights.
The sports Pay-TV unit of the Al Jazeera network could also
be interested in the rights, according to reports in Italian
($1 = 0.7183 Euros)
(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)