Serie A agent gets freezing order against Irish media firm

High Court grants order preventing firm reducing its assets below €18m

The orders were sought over fears the media company could dissipate funds away from the Irish entity.

The orders were sought over fears the media company could dissipate funds away from the Irish entity.

 

An agent of Italy’s top football league Serie A has secured a High Court freezing order preventing an Ireland-based media firm reducing its assets below €18 million.

Infront Italy sought the orders against Media Partners & Silva in a dispute over payments of monies allegedly due for international rights to show games in Serie A, involving top clubs including Juventus and AC Milan.

The orders were sought over fears the media company could dissipate funds away from the Irish entity.

The court heard Media Partners and Silva are part of a worldwide group whose business includes the distribution of television rights for various football leagues.

Jarlath Ryan, for Infront, said his client is an agent of Serie A, a professional football league.

Serie A had signed an agreement, following a tender process, to assign international audiovisual rights of the games to Media Partners and Silva, with an address at Northumberland Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, he said.

The deal operated from the start of the 2015-16 Serie A season to the end of the 2017-18 seasons for €4.68 million per season, counsel said.

The company had paid some of the money due but now appears not to be in a position to meet its obligations. As of June 2018, Infront was owed some €22 million by the defendant and that debt was acknowledged by the defendant’s chief executive, counsel said.

A petition

The defendant had agreed to make monthly payments of €5.5 million from September to December 2018 but no such payments have been made, counsel said.

As a result, Infront wanted orders from the Irish court in aid of execution of European Orders for Payment obtained from the courts in Milan over failure to pay monies allegedly owed by Media Partners and Silva.

The matter is urgent because the French Tennis Federation has lodged a petition with the London High Court seeking to wind up a related company within the same group of companies as the defendant, counsel said.

It was feared companies within the group may be insolvent.

His client was further concerned by media reports stating Arsenal Football Club and the Scottish Professional Football league had cut their ties with Media Partners & Silva over unpaid fees.

The defendant had interacted meaningfully with his client until June last but has now stopped doing so, he said.

This was of great concern given the very significant financial obligations the defendant has to Infront and it wanted orders to protect Infront’s position.

The orders preventing Media Partners & Silva reducing or dissipating assets below €18 million were granted on an ex parte basis (one side only represented) by Ms Justice Caroline Costello on Tuesday. The judge returned the case to next week.