TV Azteca given no guarantees over future Atlas rights after sale
Grupo Orlegi, the Mexican sports company and new owner of Liga MX's Atlas, will be free to negotiate broadcast rights deals with any company following its acquisition of the club from TV Azteca, the prominent commercial broadcaster in the country.
Earlier this week, Orlegi took control of Guadalajara-based Atlas's administration and operations in a deal that also involved TV Azteca obtaining a 33 per cent equity stake in Orlegi.
Media rights for Mexican soccer are sold individually by clubs, not collectively, and TV Azteca presently holds rights to Atlas and Monarcas Morelia.
However, it has now emerged that the terms of the sale of Atlas give no guarantees to TV Azteca over future rights contracts.
Alejandro Irarragorri, president of the board of directors of Grupo Orlegi, said in a statement: "The club today is free in its transmission rights in Mexico and in the world. We are in the negotiation process and through this, arrive at the situation of defining the schedules. It is part of the strength of a club, analysing where we are and what plans there may be.
"With TV Azteca there were agreements, but they had nothing to do with broadcasting rights."
The sale will test TV Azteca's appetite, with the broadcaster having announced earlier this year that it is considering ending its domestic soccer coverage because of prohibitive costs, citing the fact that top soccer rights are paid for in US dollars, but advertising revenues come in Mexican pesos.
In recent seasons, TV Azteca dropped its coverage of the matches of Liga MX teams Pachuca and Xolos (Club Tijuana) because of the costs involved.
Orlegi already runs operations for Club Santos Laguna, also of the elite Liga MX, and TM Futbol Club, of the second-tier Ascenso MX.