March 3 – Turkish Super Lig broadcaster beIN Sport has won an injunction against one of the league’s leading clubs to stop it breaching its intellectual property, preventing use of a beFAIR logo that has been used on club t-shirts, training bibs, LED stadium banners and even on 3D carpets on the pitch.
Fenerbahce, and its fans, have been running a campaign accusing the broadcaster of using selective camera angles that negatively influence the video assistant referee (VAR) in reviews of controversial plays. They say that it has adversely affected their results and that it is part of a concerted campaign against the club by the broadcaster and its football commentators.
The emergency injunction against Fenerbahce in the Turkish courts prevents the club using the beFAIR logo in any form, though Fenerbahce fans are claiming on social media the decision against the club as a victory.
While Fenerbahce and its outspoken president Ali Koc have relentlessly fuelled the campaign against beIN, the implications for the domestic TV deal in the Turkish market could backfire not just on the league and its clubs that have already seen their domestic rights fees reduced in the face of the pandemic.
BeIN Sports, who acquired Turkish satellite network Digiturk in 2016, in 2017 signed a five-year contract worth an annual $500 million for the Super Lig. For the 2019-20 season that sum was renegotiated to $420 million as Turkey’s economy crashed, and it dropped to $370 million this season as the pandemic struck.
Turkish clubs are reliant on broadcast revenue and according to Turkish Football Federation boss Nihat Ozdemir, the top four Turkish clubs have a combined debt of $1.9 billion. Fenerbahce makes up about $442 million of that figure.
Fenerbahce’s biting of the hand that feeds it could impact the whole league as domestic broadcast rights come up for renewal and negotiations begin over a new contract.
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