Argentina’s delayed football season will start on August 21, but doubts remain about a proposed government takeover of television rights to the games.
“It’s confirmed that the tournament will begin on the 21st,” Boca Juniors vice-president Jose Beraldi said on Tuesday. “We hope there aren’t any changes because the start can’t be delayed.”
The season was supposed to start on Friday but was delayed because of the severe financial difficulties facing the country’s top clubs, which are in massive debt and owe back pay to players.
The government has proposed paying the clubs 600 million pesos ($154 million) for rights to televise the season, which would force the league to break the contract of private media networks five years early. Beraldi said the Argentine Football Association would decide on Tuesday night whether to accept the proposal.
AFA seems to be determined to break the contract it has had for 18 years with a consortium that includes Argentina’s leading media company, Grupo Clarin, and Torneos y Competencias (TyC).
The government is offering to more than double the current package for TV rights, which adds up to 268 million pesos ($69 million) this year. That cash would erase most of debts of the top 20 clubs in Argentina’s first division, which owe a combined 700 million pesos ($182 million) to AFA, the government tax agency and the players.
The government would broadcast games on its state TV channel and perhaps resell rights to other cable networks or private channels.
But the league risks a multimillion-dollar lawsuit if it breaks the contract, which ends in 2014, TyC said.
AFA president Julio Grondona portrayed Argentine football as a victim of media corporations who pay the teams only a fraction of what leading European clubs get for television rights.