UG: Vucic not telling the truth – we offered € 35m for EPL matches

NEWS 22.07.2021 16:59
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Source: United Group

The United Group has said on Thursday that on Wednesday, Aleksandar Vucic presented himself as the chief strategist of Telekom Srbija and as someone who participated in the negotiations on the purchase of the TV rights for English Premier League (EPL) football matches on behalf of that state company, so, this time, the Group has not addressed the President of Serbia, but a competitor in the market.

“We ask Aleksandar Vucic to show the papers and prove his claims that UG ‘offered more money in the first round, but Telekom won in the second round’,” the Group said.

It added that people in Serbia would thus know whether Vucic was lying when he said he hadn’t participated in the negotiations, so did not know the exact figures, or whether he had taken part and knew all the details.

In either case, the UG says, “Aleksandar Vucic lied and deceived Serbia’s citizens.”

“What is true then, and how Vucic’s lie can be denied? The truth is that in the first six months of 2021, the United Group has had the most successful results since it existed. The company’s EBITDA is indeed twice as high as Telekom Serbia’s (consolidated). We have indeed achieved business growth of 300 percent in the last three years. It is true that we employ 14,365 people in eight countries and that their salaries are never late. It is also true that we have always thought of others and helped when it has been most difficult – we donated millions of euros to the region, and especially to Serbia. Still, the authorities censored that information,” the Group said.

It adds that “what is also true is that even such a successful United Group, as a leader in telecommunications and media in Southeast Europe, could not offer more than €35 million per season for EPL broadcasting rights for the market of the former Yugoslavia. And that figure was too big and unrealistic and conditioned by illegal competition of state and private capital, which is not allowed, i.e., is forbidden in the countries of the European Union.”

The Group recalls that “Serbia has also signed that law, but is not implementing it. Unfortunately, as expected, Telekom and their manager Vucic violate numerous laws of Serbia daily.”

“United Group will, of course, appeal to all relevant institutions in Serbia and the EU. We have the right to broadcast Premier League matches for another year on our Sport Klub channels,” UG said.

It added that “the Premier League has its own internal rules of fair conduct especially in the area of financing. We are convinced that nothing is final regarding the ELP TV rights.”

“We call on our competitor Vucic to document and prove his claims publicly, as he is known for enjoying showing various documents and photographs on television. If he’s brave enough to look into the papers, let him explain to people in Serbia whether it is true that Telekom Serbia has paid for the rights to sports broadcasts several times higher prices than the previous costs:

• Italian football leagues were priced at five million euros a year earlier, while Telekom would pay €23 million a year under the new contract;

• The Spanish football league’s cost was €8.5 million per season, while Telekom will pay €14 million under the new contract;

• The French Football League’s TV broadcast rights amounted to 800,000 euros annually, while Telecom will now pay six million euros per season;

• Broadcasting Champions League matches were priced at €18 million a year earlier, and under the new contract that will cost Telekom €45 million a year;

• Telekom pays for the Serbian Football League eight million euros, twice more than before… So, in many sports and different leagues, Telekom opted for a strategy of paying multiple price increases, all the way to the EPL for which they offered ten times the amount previously paid by the United Group,” the company said.

It added that “maybe Telekom Serbia’s manager Aleksandar Vucic knows how 3,500,000 Arena Sports spectators in the region will be able to pay all that because the price charged by the operator is below two euros per sports channels’ user. Did manager Vucic knowingly accept that Telekom makes €150 million in losses annually in sports rights alone? Will Serbia’s citizens pay for the difference? Competitor Vucic could ask Serbia’s President. Maybe he knows.”

N1 is a part of United Media which operates within the United Group.

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