UEFA has chosen TEAM Marketing as its global marketing and sales partner for its men’s club competitions including the lucrative Champions League, according to sources close to the deal, while granting U.S. rights to Relevent Sports Group, backed by American billionaire and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross.
Relevent offered a $250 million revenue guarantee, more than 50% higher than what UEFA currently makes from its rights in the U.S, sources told Sportico. It’s unclear how TEAM structured its bid for the global portion of the 2024-27 rights package. These rights are among the most expensive in global soccer, expected to fetch more than $4 billion per year.
The deal, first reported by The New York Times, is a victory for both TEAM, a longtime partner of UEFA, and for Relevent, which is slowly becoming a power broker in global soccer rights, particularly in the U.S.
Relevent and UEFA declined to comment, while TEAM did not immediately respond to Sportico’s requests for comment.
The decision was made by UEFA Club Competitions S.A., a joint venture between the European Club Association (ECA) and UEFA created last September to oversee the sale.
Two weeks ago four finalists (TEAM, Relevent, Infront Sports and Endeavor/IMG) submitted bids to the UEFA entity. Of the four bidders, UEFA has worked exclusively with TEAM Marketing, with TEAM selling broadcasting and commercial rights of the Champion’s League, UEFA’s most popular tournament, since 1996. Last year UEFA reported $3.1 billion in revenue from its men’s club competitions.
However, UEFA has found itself at a crossroads. For the last few years, Europe’s top soccer clubs have been pressuring the organization for higher payouts. When those demands went unmet, several top clubs sought to form a new Super League, a project that failed spectacularly, prompting backlash from leagues and fans alike.
Since the Super League implosion, UEFA has worked closely with ECA to meet clubs’ demands. UEFA has been exploring ways to help clubs recover from losses related to COVID-19 and has been working with Citi to create a long-term loan program for clubs that could commence as early as this spring.
The new tender will start in 2024-2025 and mark the Champions League’s new era. The league will replace its current 32-team format, where clubs had competed in five rounds for the top prize, with one 36-team league where each team plays 10 matches prior to the knockout stage.
(This article has been updated in the fourth paragraph to indicate UEFA declined to comment.)