IMG has acquired the global media rights to Italian soccer’s top-tier Lega Serie A, according to the ANSA news agency.
The international marketing agency is believed to have agreed a deal which covers the three-year period from 2018 to 2021, and is worth €340 million (US$401 million) per season.
That figure would represent a significant uplift on the fee MP & Silva, Serie A’s current global rights holder, paid under its ongoing deal, which was signed in late 2014 and is valued at an average of €185 million per season.
ANSA reports that IMG’s offer - which comes after several failed bids from the company in previous Serie A auctions - was accepted at a meeting of the Lega Serie A assembly on Tuesday, and that the rights will be formally assigned to the agency ‘once certain formalities have been completed’.
If confirmed, news of IMG’s deal will come as a major blow to MP & Silva, which has distributed Serie A international rights in some capacity since its launch in 2004.
When Serie A rights were centralised for the first time from 2010 onwards, MP & Silva pocketed all of the league’s overseas rights in a deal believed to be worth just over €90 million per season. That figure is understood to have risen to around €117 million per season when the deal was renewed two years later.
It is unclear which entities entered offers for the rights to the coming 2018-21 cycle, which are being sold by Infront Sports & Media, the Swiss agency which guaranteed Serie A a minimum of €5.94 billion when the two parties signed their six-year deal in May 2014.
Speaking after Tuesday's assembly, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis expressed his dissappointment at the "very ridiculous" deal with IMG, according to Italian newspaper La Gazetta Dello Sport.
De Laurentiis claims Italian soccer officials and Infront executives continue to undervalue Serie A, which has fallen behind other top European leagues in terms of overseas rights revenue.
Clubs in England's Premier League, the continent's highest-grossing domestic competition in terms of broadcast revenue, currently share around UK£1 billion (US$1.32 billion) per year in overseas rights income.