football

Premier League wins £157million payout from Inter Milan owners over disastrous TV deal


The Premier League terminated its deal with PPTV, owned by the Suning Holding Group, in September 2020, after failing to receive a penny of its record £564million deal

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The Premier League have been awarded a minimum £157million payout after a court case against the owners of Italian champions Inter Milan.

But English football’s top division now face a fight to actually be paid their winnings – plus interest and costs – as awarded by the High Court.

In 2016, Premier League bosses agreed an overseas TV deal with PPTV – owned by the Suning Holdings Group, who currently own Inter – worth in excess of £564million – 12 times more than previous rights holders Super Sports Media were paying.

The deal with the streaming service, to stream all 380 Premier League games per season in China for three seasons, beginning in 2019, was the league’s largest overseas TV deal.

A first payment of £257million went unpaid and in March 2020, amid financial issues, they failed to make their second payment too, of £160million, to the Premier League.







The Premier League terminated its Chinese deal in September 2020
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Image:

PA)

Six months later, the Premier League had still received nothing, amid suggestions PPTV were looking to renegotiate the deal and escalating tensions between the British and Chinese governments after Boris Johnson ’s decision to block Chinese technology giant Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s new 5G network had soured relations.

The Chinese ambassador in London duly accused Britain of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, warning of consequences after a pledge from the Prime Minister to offer UK residency to up to three million Hong Kong residents.

The Premier League announced its termination, simply stating: “The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory.

“The Premier League will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage.”

A PPTV statement said: “After many rounds of talks, there remain disagreements on the value of rights between PP Sports and the Premier League and regrettably we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League.

“Although PP Sports has overpaid the Premier League in advance of the copyright cycle, PP Sports will terminate its cooperation with the Premier League.”

The Suning group dissolved their Chinese Super League side, Jiangsu FC, March 2021 as financial issues hit, and duly sold big names – including Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi – following the Nerazzurri’s Series A title win.

Head coach Antonio Conte also departed amid the ongoing financial uncertainty that surrounded the Italian club as the Chinese government rolled out new regulations against overseas investment. Suning have held talks with a number of companies in recent months about selling the Italian giants.






Zhang Jindong and Suning’s ownership of Inter saw them spend big to take the Nerazzurri to the top of Serie A.

Shares in the parent company were frozen in July 2021 as debt and liquidity issues piled up. Zhang Jindong, the company’s billionaire founder, promptly stepped down following the completion of a £1bn bailout from a consortium led by the Chinese government and tech firms.

However, in December, the 58-year-old, who remains as honorary chairman, remarked in an annual letter to investors in the company: “With the support of the Chinese government and through our continuing efforts, the debt problem at our group has gradually stabilised.”

That, combined with the High Court ruling, will give the Premier League some hope that they will be able to reclaim the money it’s owed, a figure that will continue to rise each month, according to the contract.

Yet with Suning currently waging a number of legal battles over money owed to various companies, the Premier League getting the money owed out of China is far from guaranteed.

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