Italy’s top-flight Serie A soccer league moved closer to selling a stake in its media business to boost virus-hit revenues when it agreed on Thursday to accept a 1.7 billion euro ($2 billion) offer from a private equity consortium.

At a meeting in Rome, all 20 clubs backed the offer, Serie A Chairman Paolo Dal Pino told reporters, adding the deal was expected to close in the coming weeks.

CVC Capital Partners, Advent International and state-backed Italian fund FSI are bidding for a 10% stake in a new unit that will handle the league’s broadcast rights.

“We have found an agreement and unanimously voted in favour of the financial terms of the proposal, but we haven’t closed the deal yet, we haven’t committed yet,” Dal Pino said.

“It’s like when you go up the stairs, you’ve got to get to the top but we’ve come a long way.”

Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters some tax and legal aspects warranted further checks and clubs would vote again to give the sale the final green light. However, the key terms of the transaction are set, including the funds agreeing to keep their stake for at least six years, one source said.

The deal will bring outside investors into one of the game’s biggest leagues, whose revenue has plummeted during the pandemic with matches being played in empty stadiums.

Serie A has said the arrival of private equity investors would improve governance at its media business and help expansion abroad. A priority will be to negotiate new broadcast rights deals from next season.

Source: Reuters

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