PP Sports to sue Premier League over rights deal cancellation

Chinese sports broadcaster PP Sports has announced a plan to sue the English Premier League.

The league last week announced that it was to cancel its £526 million deal with the Suning Holdings-owned broadcaster after PP Sports withheld a payment of £160 million amid the coronavirus shutdown. The deal lasted less than a year.

Now, feeling unfairly treated, PP Sports has issued a statement, laying out its intention to take the League to court over the cancellation.

It said: “The global epidemic has brought many challenges, which have become more prominent in rights negotiations. After many rounds of talks, PP Sports and the Premier League have not been able to agree on the value of the rights. It is a pity that we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League. Although PP Sports has prepaid the Premier League right cycle fees in accordance with the agreement, PP Sports will still terminate the agreement with the Premier League.”

Despite political tensions between the UK and China, a number of sources cited by The Guardian said that the decision to withdraw from the deal was financially motivated.

Still, this is not the first time that the league has had issues in China. In December 2019, the Chinese government blocked broadcast of Arsenal’s fixture against Manchester City following tweets from Mesut Özil in support of persecuted and imprisoned Uighur Muslims. China Central Television also demoted its League coverage to a much less-watched channel at the end of the season following the UK’s ban on Huawei technology in its 5G network.

PP Sports has not provided any details of a formal lawsuit, but has made it clear that this will not be the last we hear of this. The broadcaster also holds the exclusive Chinese rights for La Liga, Serie A, the German Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1.

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