London (AFP) – The Premier League terminated a lucrative broadcasting contract with its licensee in China on Thursday, dealing a further blow to the English top-flight as clubs adjust to heavy losses as a result of the coronavirus.
Streaming service PPTV agreed a reported $700 million (£524 million) deal for the right to broadcast all 380 Premier League matches per season from 2019 to 2022.
However, the first season of that deal was hit by the coronavirus pandemic with a three-month shutdown between March and June before the season was completed behind closed doors.
PPTV reportedly failed to make a £160 million payment due in March for coverage of the 2019/20 season.
“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 said in a statement.
“The Premier League will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage.”
The English top-flight is already facing huge losses due to coronavirus.
The new season is set to start on September 12 in empty stadiums, while domestic and international broadcasters were due rebates because of the disruption to the 2019/20 season.
PP said in a statement that after many rounds of talks disagreements remained on the value of the rights.
“Regrettably, we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League,” it said.
“Despite PP paying more than the copyright cycle fee to Premier League in advance, as agreed, PP will terminate its cooperation with the Premier League.”
It remains to be seen whether the Premier League will be able to negotiate a new rights deal in China on similar terms due to challenging economic and political conditions.
Last season was marked by political tensions between Britain and China.
In December, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV pulled a game between Arsenal and Manchester City from its programme after Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil expressed support for mainly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Relations between the two countries have also soured as the British government has ordered the phased removal of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from its 5G network.
It also offered citizenship to millions of Hong Kong nationals in response to a sweeping new security law that Beijing has imposed on the former British colony.
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