Fox Sports Asia eyeing M-League rights?

Kelantan take on PKNS in their Super League match last month. According to sources, Fox Sports Asia is keen to secure the M-League rights, possibly pitting it against Astro in a bidding war.

PETALING JAYA: The M-League sides are set to receive a massive financial boost with Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) negotiating the broadcast rights.

The M-League’s current broadcast rights are held by Malaysian pay-TV operators Astro, but the contract is set to expire this year.

In 2011, Astro signed a four-year sponsorship contract totalling RM120mil with FAM in return for broadcasting rights to all matches in the Super League, Premier League and the FAM League.

It is learnt that Asian cable sports network Fox Sports Asia is keen to secure the M-League rights and it is set to start a bidding war, pitting it against Astro.

The details of the broadcast negotiations are expected to be discussed in the FAM finance and executive committee meeting which will be chaired by FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah at Wisma FAM on Saturday.

Astro and Fox Sports Asia could not be reached for confirmation on the matter, while FAM general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin would not deny nor confirm any bidding war, nor who the interested parties are.

However, he said the details of the broadcast rights negotiations would be revealed by Sultan Ahmad Shah after the FAM finance and executive committee meeting.

FAM’s move to privatise the M-League for the 2015 season is expected to play a major impact on the negotiations.

A reliable source within FAM revealed that the inclusion of Fox Sports Asia would augur well for the national football governing body and their move to privatise the M-League for the 2015 season.

The M-League privatisation committee had advised the state teams to convert their teams into football clubs, secure their own venues and training grounds in line with the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) requirements for those wanting to play in the AFC Champions League.

In 2012, Fox International Channels secured the rights for the Dutch Eredivisie for 12 years for a whopping €1bil (RM4.5bil), beginning with the 2013/2014 season.

According to a 2012 Associated Press report, the deal guarantees a payment of €80mil a year to all the 18 clubs in the Eredivisie. That would work out to a payout of about €4.4mil (RM20mil) to each club per season.

Obviously, the M-League cannot expect the same price as the Eredivisie. However, even if a smaller deal could be struck by FAM, the sides in the M-League would receive a much-needed monetary injection to hopefully become 100% financially independent.

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