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Soccer - 07 Jun 2021
The Football Association of Thailand has claimed its long-term domestic broadcast rights deal with Zense Entertainment has been terminated before taking effect, but the media company insists the contract with the national soccer body is still valid.
Somyot Poompunmuang, president of the FAT, told media that its contract with Zense, which was set to be the rights partner for all club and national team soccer in Thailand from the start of next season until 2028 has been declared null and void, as the broadcaster had failed to secure a bank guarantee.
According to Poompunmuang, Zense was originally given until 31 January to provide the FAT with the guarantee, under the terms of the contract, but not only failed to meet that deadline, but also failed to meet an extended deadline of 1 June.
The FAT president said: "As the company failed to act according to the contract, we have to find a new partner.”
However, Zense has responded by saying it is still honouring the contract, and that the lack of a bank guarantee was due to the FAT having not yet confirmed several changes to the deal which it had first proposed after talks in April.
The broadcaster claimed that at that point, it was agreed by both parties that because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, certain parts of the contract should be amended.
However, Zense has claimed that because it has not yet received written confirmation of these changes from the FAT, it cannot hand the organisation a bank guarantee.
The broadcaster has said in a statement: “We have invested a lot and have prepared all aspects of the broadcast.
"We hope we are treated according to the contract. We are ready to find a way out for all parties for the benefit of Thai football.”
The FAT worked with Octagon Media Rights Consulting, a division of the international sports marketing agency, on the sales process to find a new broadcast partner last year, with Zense's deal covering all national team games, including the annual invitational King's Cup, the Thai League 1 and other domestic competitions such as the lower divisions, the knockout FA Cup and League Cup competitions and the national futsal league.
The FAT had been left searching for broadcasters for the resumption of the 2020 campaign when TrueVisions, the pay-television operator whose four-year deal was due to expire at the end of last year, announced it was unwilling to show matches beyond the end of October, the traditional end of the season.
The previous four-year deal with TrueVisions had been worth Bt4.2 billion.
Zense was awarded the FAT contract after a competitive tender process, which resulted in offers from almost 30 domestic and international media companies last year, and a second round of bidding.
Eleven Sports, the international subscription broadcaster, streamed matches from Thai League 1 for the last few months of the Thai League One season (which ended in May), having agreed a short-term deal with Zense to fill the void left by TrueVisions pulling out of its deal.
Eleven showed Thai League One action on a dedicated channel it has on MyCujoo, the global soccer streaming platform.
Poompunmuang has stressed that the FAT will prioritise top-flight matches as it seeks a new partner, saying: "We will still show live all Thai League 1 matches, although some may not be on free TV.”