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DAZN looking to take legal action against DFL after latest turn

DFL still resistant to give DAZN an inch in their allegations spree

Global sports streaming service, DAZN, has threatened legal action against German soccer’s Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) body over an ongoing domestic media rights dispute. The conflict has taken a dramatic turn with the platform alleging that the DFL acted unlawfully in not accepting its bid for the main rights package in the tender.

DAZN, one of Bundesliga's two incumbent domestic rightsholders alongside Sky Deutschland, missed out on securing the main package of rights to top-flight Bundesliga matches. The platform alleges that this was due to unlawful actions by the DFL during their tender process. This allegation led to a suspension of the tender process last week.

The disputed package B of Bundesliga rights for 2025-26 to 2028-29 five-year cycle is believed to have been awarded to Sky Deutschland, replicating results from previous tenders. This exclusive pay-TV broadcasters' package includes matches played on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and comprises a total of 196 games per season.

DAZN are on brink of exploring serious legal dispute

Unwilling to accept this outcome, DAZN sent a letter threatening legal action against Steffen Merkel and Marc Lenz - co-chief executives at DFL. They plan on filing an arbitration claim next week if no resolution is found soon.

According to Financial Times reports, Tuesday is their deadline for legally challenging this auction outcome. In response, the DFL issued a statement maintaining they did not violate any laws during their transparent and non-discriminatory tender process. They assert that they adhered strictly both with commitments made towards Federal Cartel Office as well as regulations stipulated within tender documents.

DAZN argues it submitted an offer larger than Sky's for package B and should have secured these rights based on rules outlined in the DFL's own tender. These rules state that a bidder will be awarded the contract immediately if its offer meets the minimum requirement and is at least 20% higher than the second-best offer.

The bank guarantee controversy

The DFL demanded a bank guarantee from DAZN, which was met with resistance from the platform. They stated they had already explained in their tender document that they would provide a “hard letter of comfort” as done in previous tenders.

DAZN claims this was accepted by DFL, but then an unexpected demand for "a very specific bank guarantee within 24 hours" was made - something DAZN described as an impossible task. In the current rights cycle (2021-22 to 2024-25), Sky and DAZN share live rights with ProSiebenSat.1 and Sport1. These deals are collectively worth around €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) annually, with DFL aiming to retain this value for their next deal from Bundesliga matches.

This ongoing dispute between DAZN and DFL highlights complexities involved in media rights distribution within sports industry, particularly when high stakes are involved.

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