Premier League terminate largest overseas TV deal in £523m financial blow

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The Premier League have terminated its largest overseas TV contract with the Chinese streaming service, PPTV.

PPTV finalised a £523million for the rights to stream all 380 Premier League games per season in China, for the three years between 2019-22.

But they failed to make their first payment, of £160million, to the Premier League back in March.

Six months down the line, that money has still not been paid.

The Premier League confirmed on Thursday, in a short statement posted on social media: “The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory.

“The Premier League will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage.”

PPTV are owned by the the Chinese retail giant Suning, who also own CSL side Jiangsu Suning – where players have recently gone without payment – and Italian giants Inter Milan.

However, Suning’s turnover in their last financial year was over £28billion – making the apparent failed payment appear to be about more than merely money.

The deal was struck back in 2016, when a number of Chinese companies were diversifying their various portfolios by purchasing English football clubs.

That came as President Xi Jinping led a drive for businesses to invest more in football in a bid to turn the country into a footballing superpower.

President Xi had set a target for the nation to be the world’s biggest sports economy by 2025 and PPTV’s £523million deal was 12 times more than previous rights holders Super Sports Media were paying.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

However, things have greatly changed since then, both in terms of sport and politically – with escalating tensions between the British and Chinese governments.

In July, the Chinese ambassador in London accused Britain of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, warning of consequences after a pledge from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to offer UK residency to up to three million Hong Kong residents.

Prior to that declaration, Johnson’s decision to block Chinese technology giant Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s new 5G network had already soured relations between the two nations.

It’s claimed by numerous sources that the Chinese company had been looking to renegotiate the deal, at a time when Premier League clubs have already lost in excess of £500million due to coronavirus.

Now the Premier League and its clubs are left facing a further black hole in their finances, after electing to terminate the deal.

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