CSKA Sofia finally sign collective TV deal but flag 'conflict of interest' concerns
By Jonathan Rest
All 14 clubs in the efbet League, the newly-named top-tier of Bulgarian soccer, have finally signed the collective television rights agreement ahead of tonight's 2019-20 season-opener, following late opposition from CSKA Sofia.
CSKA put pen to paper to ensure teams will receive the first tranche of the TV revenue due, but the club from the capital has continued to make its objections felt to the Bulgarian Football Union.
The 14 clubs are due to share 6.5 million levs ($3.74 million) in total this season.
CSKA has complained of a "serious fourfold conflict of interest" because of the involvement throughout the commercial chain of Bulgarian businessman and oligarch Kiril Domuschiev (pictured).
Domuschiev and his brother George own Football Pro Media, the Sofia-based soccer rights agency that holds domestic rights to the Bulgarian top flight in a five-year, 30-million levs deal that still has two seasons to run. The agency sold the TV rights on to Nova Broadcasting Group, Bulgaria’s largest commercial media group, ahead of the 2016-17 season.
The Domuschievs also own reigning domestic champions Ludogorets, and Kiril is also an executive board member of the BFU.
Earlier this year the brothers acquired Nova Broadcasting from Sweden's Modern Times Group through Advanced Media Group, a subsidiary of their Advance Properties business, comprising 117 companies across 23 countries operating in industries including pharmaceuticals, shipping, port operation, real estate and power generation.
It means Kiril Domuschiev now has influence at the top of the league, the soccer federation, the agency holding the league's commercial rights and the broadcaster showing its matches.
CSKA had threatened to strike an individual rights deal with another broadcaster, and said it is still considering appeal to Uefa.
The BFU said in a statement: "The distribution agreement for the television rights contract has been signed by all the clubs of the First Professional League, as a result of which the 14 clubs will shortly receive the first tranches of the contract for the new competitive season."
Meanwhile, the BFU has announced a two-year title sponsorship deal with betting firm efbet for the first division.
Atanas Karaivanov, manager of Football Pro Media, said on Thursday: "I'm glad we can do something centralised with efbet and our colleagues from the Nova Broadcasting Group."
CSKA open their campaign at home to Etar this evening.