AFC joins the commercial big league with $4bn+ rights deal for 2021-28 cycle

By Paul Nicholson

June 13 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has secured a huge uplift in revenue for its commercial rights, landing a potentially $4 billion-plus deal with specially formed DDMC Fortis after an 15-month tender process.

Previously locked in to a long term deal with Lagardere, the AFC has steadily built the value and profile of its key club and national competitions in the knowledge that it had the opportunity to close the gap in commercial value it was missing towards the end of its current contract.

The new agreement will cover commercial rights for all AFC national team and club competitions, beginning with the Asian Qualification competition for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

With a minimum guarantee estimated to be around $3.4 billion, the actual sales revenues could push the total figure significantly higher and over the $4 billion mark.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifasaid: “The new rights agreement will now secure the financial future of our Member Associations as well as help the AFC further enhance our competitions and development programmes…

“The successful conclusion to a process, which has lasted for more than 15 months, will mean that the AFC and the Asian football family can now contemplate a bright and prosperous future,” he continued.

“But at the same time, we must be aware of the need to continue to evolve and develop both on and off the field to make sure that we use the new financial power wisely and effectively.”

DDMC Fortis was created specifically to bid for the AFC rights. A partnership between China’s DDMC Sports International Ltd and Swiss-based Fortis Sports AG, the new company is formed with a backbone of knowledge and experience in the Asian market via its principles.

Rentao Yi, Chairman of Wuhan DDMC Culture Co., Ltd. said: “Based in China and with global vision, DDMC is a leader in the Asian sports industry with abundant experience in international rights management and cross-border intercultural cooperation.

“This is the first time that a Chinese enterprise has secured a comprehensive commercialmandate for a prestigious global football property…Based partly on the booming Chinese sports market, our cooperation with the AFC will help the AFC take Asian football to the next level and kick-off a golden decade of growth.”

Fortis Sports AG is a Swiss-based sports marketing agency led by Patrick Murphy and David Tyler, who are both former managing directors of TEAM Marketing, UEFA’s exclusive club competition marketing agency. The TEAM model is one that reshaped the football rights market in Europe and could potentially do the same in Asia with the AFC’s competitions.

Like TEAM in Europe, DDMC Fortis will focus solely on the AFC’s competitions.

“In terms of population and economic might, Asia is a global powerhouse. Football is the number one sport in the region and the passion of Asia’s football fans is unquestioned,” said Murphy.

“The potential to elevate the AFC’s competitions is clear, and DDMC Fortis is proud to be entrusted by the AFC to help it achieve that potential. Our team has a wealth of experience – in the global sports industry and in Asian football.”

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