Soccer’s European governing body UEFA has reached a settlement with the European Commission to end the sale of exclusive broadcast rights to its flagship club competition, the Champions League.

After a one-year investigation, the EC declared that UEFA’s current practice (whereby all free-to-air and pay-TV rights are sold by the body on behalf of the clubs to a single broadcaster in each country) is anti-competitive.

From the 2003/2004 season, UEFA will sell what it regards as the most prestigious matches every week to a single broadcaster in each country. Other broadcasters will then be able to buy rights to other matches played at the same time. Should UEFA be unable to strike a deal for these second-tier matches, the clubs involved would be able to sell rights to broadcasters in each country.

In addition, the media rights will be split, allowing websites, mobile phone companies and regional TV firms to bid for coverage; while the clubs will get access to deferred TV rights on the Thursday after each game.

UEFA’s proposals were welcomed by EC competition commissioner Mario Monti. “This solution fosters a broader and a more varied offer of football in the European Union,” he declared.

“It will allow clubs to develop some of the rights with their fan base and will give an impulse to the emerging new media markets such as the internet and UMTS services.”

Data sourced from multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff