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Brazilian Libra soccer project says breakaway division can rival Premier League ‘in 20 years’

Premier League used as template for 16-club group backed by Codajas Sports Kapital.

5 January 2023 Josh Sim

Getty Images

  • Libra in talks to sell 20% stake to Mudabala Capital investment firm
  • Rival project LFF has 26 clubs onboard and accepted initial proposal from US investors

A group leading one of the proposed elite Brazilian soccer breakaway league projects believes the country can be home to the ‘second-biggest’ domestic soccer competition in the world in 20 years’ time.

The initiative to launch Brazilian Football League (Libra) is being led by Codajas Sports Kapital, with 16 first and second division clubs currently signed up, including household names in Flamengo, Corinthians, Santos and Vasco da Gama.

Based on the model pioneered by English soccer’s Premier League, the intention is for the clubs to manage the elite breakaway division rather than the national governing Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). Such a move would mark a major shakeup of the country’s domestic structure, with the overall goal of improving its commercial potential.

“Our vision is that in ten years we can reach the French league in terms of overall revenues,” Lawrence Magrath, co-founder of Codajas Sports Kapital told the Financial Times (FT).

“We firmly believe that in 20 years we can be the second-biggest league in the world, only after the Premier League. We have the raw materials and a time zone that’s consumer-friendly globally for transmissions.”

Last November the league confirmed it was in talks to sell a stake in the planned competition to UAE state investment firm Mubadala Capital, with the FT reporting the investment’s value at BR$4.75 billion (US$890 million).

However, Libra faces competition from the Liga Forte Futebol (LFF) project, which has the support of 26 other clubs. Both competing initiatives currently differ on the best approach to dividing up broadcast revenue between the clubs.

According to the FT, there is a consensus that only one proposal with support from all sides will succeed going forward. The outlet reports that the objective is for all 40 first and second-tier clubs to agree on a single project, with a merger potentially on the cards. As well as time running out for both leagues to finalise their investment deals, negotiations covering the next Brazilian domestic rights deal are set to take place later this year.

LFF recently announced it had unanimously approved an initial proposal presented by a group of US investors, which reportedly rivals Mudabala’s offer to Libra.

In a statement, the LFF said it was open to making the agreement valid for teams aligned with Libra, adding: ‘The approved proposal is valid for the LFF clubs independently and also for an eventual single league of 40 clubs, should a unification occur.

‘The LFF reaffirms its belief that the balanced distribution of income is the starting point for us to create a strong league in Brazil. The greatest example of success in the world is the Premier League, in which the difference in income between the highest and lowest club is 1.5 times.’

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