The Premier League has terminated its £490m contract with Chinese streaming service PPTV, ending their right to show live coverage of English top-flight games this season with immediate effect.
The decision leaves a huge hole in the Premier League’s finances, having been just one year into a three-year contract with the Chinese broadcaster.
The move comes after PPTV, which is owned by Suning, the Chinese conglomerate that also has control of Italian club Inter Milan, withheld a payment of around £160m in March. PPTV bought the rights for the 2019-2022 broadcasting cycle for £564m back in 2016, eclipsing the $160m deal that was previously held by Super Sports for the preceding batch between 2013/14 to 2018/19.
But the company held back a nine-figure payment earlier this year after expressing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the financial crisis that has followed.
A Premier League statement on Thursday read: “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.”
The Premier League was paused on 13 March before being concluded later in the year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with the expected payment from PPTV subsequently not arriving on time. It’s understood that the Premier League deemed this as a breach of contract on PPTV’s behalf, and following subsequent talks, it rejected a contract extension offer through to 2025.
It has also been suggested that the failure to make the payment may have been related the escalation of tensions between China and Boris Johnson’s UK government, which resulted in the ban on telecoms company Huawei from being involved in the nationwide 5G project in Britain, as well as the prime minister’s opposition to the new security laws imposed in Hong Kong.
But PPTV issued a statement to say the end of the deal had been negotiated on financial measures alone,
A PPTV statement read: “After many rounds of talks, there remain disagreements on the value of rights between PPTV and the Premier League. Regrettably we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League.
“Despite PPTV paying more than the copyright cycle fee to Premier League in advance, as agreed, PPTV will terminate its cooperation with the Premier League.”