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Serie A seeks Abu Dhabi deals on TV rights, Italian Super Cup – sources

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – AC Milan celebrate winning Serie A – Milan, Italy – May 23, 2022 AC Milan fans celebrate with the team during the victory parade REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo

MILAN/DUBAI, (Reuters) – Italy’s top football league Serie A is in talks over a broadcast deal with state-backed Abu Dhabi Media and on a separate agreement to host its Super Cup in the emirate, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Home to AC Milan, Juventus and other top clubs, Serie A is looking at ways to catch up with major European leagues such as England’s Premier League and Spain’s LaLiga which it lags in terms of revenue from markets abroad.

As part of these efforts, the league is exploring a deal with Abu Dhabi Media, owned by state holding company ADQ, to screen its matches in the Middle East and North Africa for five seasons, according to the sources, who declined to be named.

Under the terms discussed, Serie A clubs would pocket at least 143 million euros ($153 million) in total over five years, the same sources said, adding the deal could be worth up to 186 million euros including royalties.

Last year Serie A failed to award its pay-TV licenses in the Middle East and North Africa as previous rights holder Qatar’s BeIn Sports did not join the race and talks with Saudi Sports Company proved fruitless.

That left the Italian league with a significant shortfall in its international pay TV revenue, which plummeted by about a third to 640 million euros in the three years to 2024 compared with the previous cycle.

Talks over the new deal, which would involve streaming some matches on Abu Dhabi-based streaming platform Starzplay, are ongoing and there is no certainty it will go through, the sources said.

Serie A’s clubs representatives are due to discuss the bid at a meeting scheduled for June 7, the sources added.

The Abu Dhabi government’s media office, ADQ and Starzplay did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. Serie A declined to comment.

Separately, Serie A is in talks with Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism department over a five-year deal to host the Italian Super Cup in the Gulf state, under a new format, the same sources added.

The Super Cup would change to a four-team competition – as in Spain since 2019 – rather than being a match between the winners of Serie A and the Italian Cup, the sources said.

This other deal, whose terms are still being discussed, could be worth 129 million euros, the people added. It would replace a similar agreement with Saudi Arabia, worth 21 million euros, after it expires next season.

The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

($1 = 0.9327 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Yousef Saba; Editing by Matt Scuffham and David Holmes)