Lagardere Sports out, Chinese company inks $4 bn deal for AFC rights

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Lagardere Sports is pushed out of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) media rights business after 25 years by a Chinese sports and entertainment company.

Lagardere Sports & Entertainment, the long-standing partner for the AFC will no more hold the portfolio from 2021. The governing body of football in Asia and Australia has announced an eight-year commercial rights deal with the DDMC Sports International division of Chinese sports and entertainment company Wuhan DDMC Culture Co, and the Fortis Sports Agency.

Lagardere has been associated with the marketing of the AFC rights since 1993 and this will be nothing less then blow for the company.

The new deal covers the broadcast and commercial rights for all of the AFC’s competitions, including the Asian Champions League and the quadrennial Asian Cup, as well as Asia’s final round of qualifying for the World Cup, for the period spanning from 2021 to 2028. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but according to reports in the Associated Press news agency, the new contract will be worth more than US$4 billion.

The news was announced following an AFC executive committee meeting in Moscow, and concludes a tender process that first opened in November and closed on 29th March covering near-global media and global marketing rights to all AFC competitions. Media rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region were separated out and will be sold separately.

Earlier this year, DDMC bought the domestic broadcast rights for Spanish club soccer’s top tier, La Liga, from the start of the 2017 season until 2022 while they also paid US$500 million to purchase Super Sports Media, who hold the Chinese rights for the English Premier League.

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “We are delighted to have recommended the offer from the company that submitted such a compelling bid and now the AFC administration has been mandated to complete the contract as soon as possible.

“The new rights agreement will now secure the financial future of our member associations as well as help the AFC further enhance our competitions and development programmes.

“The successful conclusion to a process, which has lasted for more than 15 months, will mean that the AFC and the Asian football family can now contemplate a bright and prosperous future. But at the same time, we must be aware of the need to continue to evolve and develop both on and off the field to make sure that we use the new financial power wisely and effectively