AFC terminates LeSports’ broadcast rights deal

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Asian football’s governing body, Asian Football Confederation, has terminated the broadcast deal with China’s LeSports. The AFC said in a statement that China Sports Media (CSM) would take over the rights for the rest of the 2017-2020 commercial cycle after being left with “no alternative but to terminate its contract with LeTV”. According to Reuters, the deal was terminated last week after the company has failed to pay the latest installment of its rights fee.

The breakup of the deal underlines rising concerns that China’s soccer market has expanded too quickly. The deal, worth in excess of $100 million, was signed with the sports unit of Chinese technology giant LeEco in October 2015 and gave the company exclusive China broadcast rights for the matches played under AFC auspices.

LeSports confirmed in a statement that its deal with the AFC had been terminated. “We have let you all down,” the firm said, adding that customers would be recompensed. As a “leader and pioneer” in the sports market, the firm said it had gained a lot of experience, but also faced setbacks.

Huge transfer deals for players, massive investments in overseas clubs and fierce competition for television rights have fuelled billions of dollars of spending in the last two years.