MONTEVIDEO: Tenfield appears to have conceded defeat in its battle to retain control of broadcasting and marketing rights of the Uruguayan football federation.
Euromericas Sport Marketing, headed by Gerardo Molina, has bid £68n-a-year for a five-year contract which has been apparently accepted by AUF president Wilmar Valdez and Secretary of Economic Affairs Ignacio Alonso.
This offer is for the transmission of local football and can generate between $32m and $43m more than the current deal. The AUF would clear $340m over the term of the contract.
Tenfield’s contract runs until 2025 but is worth ‘only’ $9m a year and buying it out would cost $63m which the AUF would cover easily from its new revenue stream.
A Tenfield statement said: “”Tenfield has always acted for the good of Uruguayan football and all its stakeholders so when a company representing an international consortium brings forward such an offer then Tenfield can only inform the president of the AUF of its readiness to negotiate a termination of contract. ”
Uruguay’s national team squad played a central role in driving up commercial revenues stuck at pauper level by Tenfield’s long-term deal with the AUF.
Tenfield was founded in 1998 by the businessmen Francisco ‘Paco’ Casal and fronted by old heroes Enzo Francescoli and Nelson Gutiérrez. Initially it bought out exclusive rights to Uruguayan league coverage but now owns a wide range of national and international broadcasting rights.
Along the way Tenfield also bought control of the commercial rights of the federation including the national team whose kit contract it subcontracted to Puma.
This was long accepted as the best, or only, deal in town until questions began to be raised last year after the United States Justice Department targeted the role played in the FIFAGate corruption farrago by Eugenio Figueredo former Sports Minister, AUF president and then subsequently CONMEBOL head and FIFA vice-president.
Simultaneously leading clubs and the players’ union went to court with a complaint that Figueredo and the then secretary-general of CONMEBOL Gorka Villar (son of senior FIFA and UEFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar) had threatened exclusion from South American competitions unless they dropped a demand for monies they believed due from the CONMEBOL commercial and TV kitty.
This sparked a new look at the AUF’s two-decade-long deal with Tenfield.
Executives were apparently confident that its long-term influence with the clubs virtually guaranteed acceptance, with Puma continuing to put up the bulk of the money.
However the Celeste’s European-based stars had been considering other solutions.
Initially an open letter appeared on the website of captain Diego Godin, of Atletico Madrid, but was soon taken up by team-mates. In it the players made plain that they wanted the AUF to ditch Tenfield for the good of all of Uruguayan football which had been starved of funds for too long.
New Balance and Canadian newcomer Dry World were ready to top the Tenfield extension but dwarfing any other proposal was an offer from Nike worth between $2.5m and $3.5m-a-year over seven years.
The sportswear ‘hand’ behind the Euromericas offer has yet to be revealed.