This is part two of the blog on the Willem
II and MVV State Aid decisions. Where
part one served as an introduction on the two cases, part two will analyze the
compatibility assessment made by the Commission in two decisions.
compatibility of the aid to MVV and Willem II (re-)assessed
Even though it was the Netherlands’
task to invoke possible grounds of compatibility and to demonstrate that the
conditions for such compatibility were met, the aid granted to both Willem II
and MVV was never notified. The Netherland’s failure to fulfill its notification
obligation, therefore, appears to be at odds with the Commission’s final
decision to declare the aid compatible with EU law. Yet, a closer look at the
Commission’s decision of 6 March 2013 to launch the formal investigation shows
that the Commission was giving the Netherlands a ‘second chance’ to invoke
grounds that would lead to a justification of the measures.More...
The European Commission’s decisions of 4 July 2016 to order the recovery of the State aid granted to seven
Spanish professional football clubs
were in a previous blog called historic. It was
the first time that professional football clubs have been ordered to repay aid
received from (local) public authorities. Less attention has been given to five
other decisions also made public that day, which cleared support measures for five football clubs in the Netherlands. The clubs in question were PSV Eindhoven, MVV Maastricht, NEC Nijmegen,
FC Den Bosch and Willem II.
Given the inherent political sensitivity of State aid recovery
decisions, it is logical that the “Spanish decisions” were covered more widely
than the “Dutch decisions”. Furthermore, clubs like Real Madrid and FC
Barcelona automatically get more media attention than FC Den Bosch or Willem
II. Yet, even though the “Dutch decisions” are of a lower profile, from an EU
State aid law perspective, they are not necessarily less interesting.
A few days before entering the quiet month of August, the Commission
published the non-confidential versions of its decisions concerning PSV Eindhoven, Willem II and MVV Maastricht (hereinafter:
“MVV”). The swiftness of these publications is somewhat surprising, since it often
takes at least three months to solve all the confidentiality issues.
Nonetheless, nobody will complain (especially not me) about this opportunity to
analyze in depth these new decisions. More...
Editor's note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
On 3 June 2016, the Landgericht München (“Munich
Regional Court”) ordered temporary injunctions against the International Basketball Federation (“FIBA”)
and FIBA Europe, prohibiting them from sanctioning clubs who want to
participate in competitions organized by Euroleague Commercial Assets (“ECA”).
The reasoning of the Court is based on breaches of German and EU competition
law provisions. FIBA and FIBA Europe are, according to the judge, abusing their
dominant position by excluding or threatening to exclude national teams from
their international competitions because of the participation of their clubs in
the Euroleague. This decision is the first judicial step taken in the ongoing
legal battle between FIBA and ECA over the organization of European basketball competitions.
This judgment raises several interesting points with
regard to how the national judge deals with the alleged abuse of a dominant
position by European and international federations. A few questions arise
regarding the competence of the Munich Regional Court that may be interesting
to first look at in the wake of an appeal before examining the substance of the
Editor’s note: This report
compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European
Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited
to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links
to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.
This month saw the conflict between FIBA Europe
and the Euroleague (more precisely its private club-supported organizing body,
Euroleague Commercial Assets or ‘ECA’) becoming further entrenched. This
dispute commenced with FIBA creating a rival Basketball Champions League, starting from the 2016-2017 season with the hope to reinstate their
hold over the organization of European championships. The ECA, a private body
that oversees the Euroleague and Eurocup, not only decided to maintain its
competitions but also announced it would reduce them to a closed, franchise-based league following a
joint-venture with IMG. In retaliation, FIBA Europe suspended fourteen
federations of its competition (with the support of FIBA) due to their support for the Euroleague project.More...
Editor’s note: Marine Montejo
is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern
at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
In its decisions regarding the joint selling of football media rights (UEFA, Bundesliga, FA Premier
league), the European Commission insisted that premium media
rights must be sold through a non-discriminatory and transparent tender
procedure, in several packages and for a limited period of time in order to
reduce foreclosure effects in the downstream market. These remedies ensure that
broadcasters are able to compete for rights that carry high audiences and, for
pay TV, a stable number of subscriptions. In line with these precedents, national
competition authorities have tried to ensure compliance with remedy packages.
The tipping point here appears to be the premium qualification of sport rights
on the upstream market of commercialization of sport TV rights.
This begs the question: which sport TV rights must be
considered premium? More...
Wil is working as a lawyer since 1980. He
started his legal career at Rechtshulp Rotterdam. Later on he worked for the
Dutch national trade union FNV and law firm Varrolaan Advocaten. Currently he
is participating in the Labour Law Section of lawfirm MHZ-advocaten in Schiedam
in the Netherlands. He is also a member of a joint committee advising the government
in labour issues.
Since 1991 he is dealing with the labour issues
of the trade union for professional football players VVCS and cyclists’ union
VVBW. Since 2002, he works for FIFPro, the worldwide union for professional
football players based in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. He is involved in many
international football cases and provides legal support for FIFPro members all
over the world. Wil was also involved in the FIFPro Black Book campaign on
match fixing and corruption in Eastern Europe. More...
1. Antitrust/Competition Law and Sport
G Basnier, ‘Sports and competition law: the case of the salary
cap in New Zealand rugby union’, (2014) 14 The
International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.155
R Craven, ‘Football and State aid: too important to fail?’ (2014) 14 The International Sports Law Journal 3-4, p.205
R Craven, ‘State Aid and Sports Stadiums: EU Sports Policy or
Deference to Professional Football’ (2014) 35 European Competition Law Review Issue 9,
2. Intellectual Property Rights in Sports law /
Betting rights/ Spectators’ rights/ Sponsorship Agreements
W T Champion and K
DWillis, Intellectual property law in the
sports and entertainment industries (Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado;
Oxford, England: Praeger 2014)
and F Rizzo, Les contrats de sponsoring
sportif (Lextenso éditions 2014)
Yesterday, the European Commission stunned the
European Sports Law world when it announced unexpectedly that it had signed a “partnership agreement” with UEFA named (creatively): ‘The Arrangement
for Cooperation between the European Commission and the Union of European
Football Associations (UEFA)’. The press release indicates that this agreement is to “commit
the two institutions to working together regularly in a tangible and
constructive way on matters of shared interest”. The agreement was negotiated (as
far as we know) secretly with UEFA. Despite recent meetings between EU Commissioner for sport Vassiliou
and UEFA President Platini, the eventuality of such an outcome was never evoked.
It is very unlikely that third-interested-parties (FIFPro, ECA, Supporters
Direct etc.) were consulted in the process of drafting this Arrangement. This
surprising move by an outgoing Commission will be analysed in a three-ponged
approach. First, we will discuss the substance of the Arrangement (I).
Thereafter, we will consider its potential legal value under EU law (II).
Finally, and maybe more importantly, we will confront the political relevance
of the agreement (III). More...
This is the second part of a blog series on
the Real Madrid State aid case. In
the previous blog on this case, an outline of all the relevant facts was provided
and I analysed the first criterion of Article 107(1) TFEU, namely the criterion
that an advantage must be conferred upon the recipient for the measure to be
considered State aid. Having determined that Real Madrid has indeed benefited
from the land transactions, the alleged aid measure has to be scrutinized under
the other criteria of Article 107(1): the measure must be granted by a Member State
or through State resources; the aid granted must be selective; and it must
distorts or threatens to distort competition. In continuation, this blog will
also analyze whether the alleged aid measure could be justified and declared
compatible with EU law under Article 107(3) TFEU.More...
This is the
first part of a blog series involving the Real
Madrid State aid case.
Apart from being
favoured by many of
Spain’s most important politicians, there have always been suspicions
surrounding the world’s richest football club regarding possible financial aid by the Madrid City Council. Indeed, in
the late 90’s a terrain qualification change by the Madrid City Council proved to
be tremendously favourable to the king’s club. The change allowed Real Madrid
to sell its old training grounds for a huge sum. Though the exact price for the
grounds remains unknown, Real Madrid was suddenly capable of buying players
like Figo and Zidane for record fees. However, the European Commission, even
though agreeing that an advantage was conferred to the club, simply stated that the new
qualification of the terrain in question does not appear to involve any
transfer of resources by the State and could therefore not be regarded as State
aid within the meaning of article 107 TFEU.
between the club and the Council have been a regularity for the last 25
years. A more recent example concerns an
agreement signed on 29 July 2011 (Convenio29-07-2011.pdf (8MB).