Serie A involves sports media agencies to cut TV revenue shortfall - sources

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's top-flight soccer clubs agreed on Tuesday to involve media rights agencies in brokering the sale of Serie A pay-TV licences in the Middle East and North Africa to cut a shortfall in its media revenue, two sources familiar with the matter said.

As Qatari broadcaster beIn has been reluctant to join the tender process and a deal with rival Saudi Sport Company has proven elusive, Serie A faces a 330 million euro ($384.4 million) shortfall in international TV revenue in the three years to 2024.

That comes at a time when many clubs are in demand of fresh resources to cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a bid to cut the revenue deficit, Serie A clubs on Tuesday authorised the league's Chief Executive Luigi De Siervo to mandate sport media agencies to secure a deal worth at least 50 million euros per season, the sources said.

Any mandate would last for 30 days and would be on a non-exclusive basis, added the people, who joined a league meeting on Tuesday.

Serie A, home of Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan, has previously used media agencies to market licences, but opted to manage the sale of the 2021-2024 cycle in house.

However the market has proved challenging, with major broadcast players in the region showing little interest so far.

So far the Italian league has secured contracts worth around 640 million euros for screening live matches abroad during the 2021-2024 period. In the previous three-year cycle, it collected 970 million euros in adjusted revenue from the sale of international TV rights licences.

To avoid a complete blackout of its matches across a market which includes countries such as Egypt, Morocco and the Gulf States, Serie A in July clinched a back-up deal to stream some of its matches for free on Google-owned video platform YouTube.

($1 = 0.8586 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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