Iranian Club Presidents and IFF Chief want control over broadcasting rights
Over the last few years, there has been an interesting feud going on between the Iranian Football Federation (IFF) and the Iranian National TV over the broadcasting rights of the football matches.
You see, Iran is probably the only country on the planet in which the clubs pay, yes pay, the national broadcasting agency for broadcasting their matches! Over the last few years, successive IFF Presidents have tried their luck winning this fight, but none have succeeded.
Iranian football is having a major cash flow problem, because in Iran the traditional sources of football revenue are nonexistent. In a 2009 goal.com article I wrote about this in more detail.
This week, in a joint meeting of top division club presidents and the league officials everyone took their turn to speak their frustrations. The most interesting speaker was Ali Fathollahzadeh, President of Esteghlal of Tehran. For the last year or more, Fathollahzadeh has been lobbying to start a TV station independent of the Iranian National Broadcasting Agency that is dedicated to football. He has been arguing, perhaps correctly, that one such TV station would be able to bring in significant profit for Iranian football. However, it needs to be said that he is also trying to become the man in charge of that TV station.
It is no secret that, as it is now, football is a huge revenue generator for many individuals including those in charge of the national broadcasting agency, municipal stadia, and even certain clubs. So it is not too hard to see why establishment refuses to change the current arrangement; for them it would be like killing the goose that lays golden eggs.
Many of the Iranian clubs get a significant amount funding directly from the government and/or government subsidized industries, and there is little monitoring of how this money is spent. Therefore, trying to create an estimated balance sheet for any of these clubs is an impossible task, because there are no public records available. But if one adds up some of the reported salaries for the players, the estimated size of the spent cash will quickly make it clear that the problem may not be cash flow, but cash management or perhaps honest cash management.
An interesting development in recent years has been the Revolutionary Guards increasing interest in running these clubs.
The Revolutionary Guard has been expanding its direct control and influence over bigger portions of the Iranian economy over the last two decades. Some estimate that the Guard now controls 68% of Iran’s total exports (legal and illegal). This situation may not be too dissimilar to the involvement of the Columbian drug cartels in that country’s football during the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s. Many may recall that during that period Columbian football clubs were used as a money laundering tool for that country’s drug lords including the notorious Pablo Escobar. It is suggested that the Revolutionary Guard may have dusted of a book off Pablo’s old bookshelf.
Where this may end up is hard to tell, but with FIFA and AFC pushing for a true professional structures infrastructure in every country, the aggrieved Iranian club presidents and federation officials may just end up getting a bigger piece of the pie.
Here is more on the topic as reported and discussed on BBC’s Persian language broadcasting:
My name is Khanage and I work on a blog called I Luv Football and am currently looking for someone to interview regarding Iranian domestic football and the current teams e.g. young prospects, top three players and maybe your thoughts on how Iran can improve its football etc. Could you assist please? Your site will be mentioned and linked in the article and i would be grateful for any assistance you could give me. I have already conducted interviews with writers on Palestinian, Indian, Japanese and Chinese football from Asia and various other from around the world, I would really appreciate writing something on Iran so my readers can get an insight into football in the country. Would you be able to do this? I have copied a link to show you an example of a previous interview.
Posted from United Kingdom
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