The dispute between Lumiere TV (LTV) and two first division football clubs deepened this week after it was announced that they were seeking the compulsory liquidation of the well-known television subscriber channel.
The legal battle is set to take place at the Nicosia Civil Court and will involve APOEL and Ermis Aradippou – two sides that will contest the Cyprus Coca-Cola Cup final later this month. In legal terms, compulsory liquidation is the sale of firm assets at the behest of a court order, issued after a legal request of a creditor has been ruled in favour.
According to media reports, APOEL is owed €373,970 of the €900,000 deal with LTV that runs until 2016 while the club is also owed some €250,000 for this season – a sum that the Nicosia club will also seek via the courts if it is not settled soon.
The €373,970 is money owed to APOEL from television rights for both domestic and European games from last season.
Legal representatives of the club say that the subscriber television channel had been warned numerous times to settle old debts. Ermis are said to be owed around €230,000.
LTV, meanwhile, argue that the reason for the delay is due to money they are owed from sponsors and collaborators while they also pin some of the blame on the 2013 banking crisis haircut – in which they reportedly lost some €2.3 million.
LTV officials have repeatedly told the clubs that “patience and understanding” is needed at the present time and that they will all receive their money in the fullness of time.
This, however, has failed to convince the hierarchy at both clubs who are in need of cash as they move into next season.
A possible breakaway from LTV, is likely to attract interest from Cyprus’ other two subscriber networks, namely Cytavision and PrimeTel, both of whom are willing to offer the Nicosia club fatter contracts.
The main live football broadcasters in Cyprus are Cytavision and LTV although some rights are held by PrimeTel.
Open-air networks CyBC and Sigma hold limited rights for some Europa League and Champions League games, respectively, while CyBC has exclusive rights to major international football tournaments such as the European Championships and the World Cup.
In the last couple of months, Cyprus Football Association (CFA) chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis has been attempting to persuade the clubs to allow a CFA platform to handle the television rights of football clubs and then evenly disburse the money amongst them.
His proposal has so far received a lukewarm reaction particularly from the island’s bigger teams.