Chinese broadcaster set to honour FA Cup contract

Chinese broadcaster set to honour FA Cup contract despite seeing £564m Premier League deal terminated

  • Suning Holdings are expected to contiue broadcasting FA Cup matches in China
  • The company saw its Premier League deal torn up after missing £160m payment
  • But broadcaster has paid in full for last season’s FA Cup and deal expires in 2024

The FA Cup will continue to be broadcast live in China next season despite uncertainty over whether Premier League football will be available in its biggest overseas market.

Sportsmail has learned that Suning Holdings, whose £564million contract with the Premier League was terminated on Friday after a dispute over the non-payment of a £160m instalment due last March, have paid the FA in full for last season’s competition and are planning to honour the rest of their six-year deal, which expires in 2024.

The Chinese TV contract for the FA Cup is part of the governing body’s portfolio of international broadcasting rights for the 2018-19 to 2023-24 seasons and is worth £820m overall. The record-breaking deal was sold to agencies Pitch International and IMG, who then negotiated contracts with broadcasters in each territory.

Suning Holdings will honour their contractual agreement to broadcast FA Cup games in China

The deal with Suning for the FA Cup in China was sold by IMG who, as Sportsmail revealed in April, initially withheld a payment that was due to the FA earlier this year after the quarter-finals were postponed during lockdown. 

The competition was eventually completed and the FA have now received the full £137m they were owed for last season’s rights, including the Chinese portion.

IMG have paid £575m for their share of the overseas rights, with Pitch contributing £245m for a deal covering Europe and the Middle East, so their willingness to pay in full despite the delay to last season’s FA Cup is a huge relief for the governing body, who are projecting losses of up to £300m due to Covid.

IMG initially withheld payment that was due to the FA after the quarter-finals were postponed

Pitch had paid their share of last season’s rights fee on time despite the interruption caused by the pandemic.

Suning’s agreement to meet their contractual obligations regarding the FA Cup indicates that the dispute with the Premier League, which led to their contract being terminated, was primarily caused by financial issues rather than the increased political tensions between the UK and China.

The Premier League have taken an immediate hit of £300m on the cancelled contract as Suning had paid £265m up front, but their final losses could be far greater because there is no guarantee that an alternative Chinese broadcaster will step in.

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