Premier League claims $215 million from China's PPLive over match deal

FILE PHOTO - Premier League - Aston Villa v Liverpool - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - October 4, 2020. Aston Villa's Ross Barkley in action with Liverpool's Fabinho. Pool via REUTERS/Peter Powell

LONDON (Reuters) - The Premier League is claiming $215 million (166 million pounds) from PPLive Sports International, alleging it broke the terms of a contract to screen live matches and highlights in China by not paying the amount it was due to, court filings show.

The Premier League, which declined to comment on Wednesday, cancelled the contract with PPLive, part of retail group Suning, last month after just one season, in a blow to its revenue.

Filings at the Commercial Court in London showed the Premier League was claiming $210 million, which it alleges that PPLive failed to pay by March 1, 2020 when payment was due, plus a further $2.7 million due for a clips package and an additional $2.3 million to cover compound interest.

A source close to Suning said the Chinese broadcaster was taking its own legal action, adding it had paid half of the contract, despite being only a fifth of the way through it.

PPLive had unsuccessfully sought to renegotiate terms of the deal, which was valued at $700 million for three years including the 2019-20 season, the source added.

The deal was struck during the peak of Chinese interest in international soccer and marked a huge increase on a previous deal to screen matches in China.

The Premier League has since agreed a broadcast deal in China for the 2020-21 season with digital platform Tencent.

Although the world’s wealthiest league has been able to weather the coronavirus crisis thanks to lucrative broadcast deals, clubs have taken a big financial hit in having to play matches behind closed doors.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told the BBC last month that a failure to allow fans back as soon as possible would cost member clubs 700 million pounds in lost revenues in 2020-21.

Writing by Alan Baldwin; Additional reporting by Pei Li in Hong Kong and Kirstin Ridley in London; Editing by Alexander Smith