OPINION

Offside

The impending decision by subscription channel Alpha Digital to suspend operations due to its failure to meet its economic obligations will be the outcome of a foregone conclusion. The company signed deals with 10 first-division soccer clubs allowing for the digital transmission of matches in exchange for exorbitant fees. Kathimerini would not criticize a business decision provided that it carried no immediate social repercussions. In this case, however, the decision will affect thousands of subscribed viewers and will undermine the soccer championships. The economic collapse of Alpha Digital will put a heavy strain on the 10 soccer teams whose economic viability depends on the sale of their broadcast rights. This means that most of the clubs will now lose their main source of revenue. In truth, both sides are responsible for the present situation. There is no doubt that Alpha Digital’s business practices raise many questions. The presidents of Greece’s soccer clubs, for their part, knew that the contracts they signed would inevitably lead to an economic deadlock. It should be noted that television networks in other European countries have already faced this hard economic reality, a fact which should have made everyone here a bit more cautious. The German giant KirchMedia collapsed due to similar circumstances. In neighboring Italy, the league began after a two-week delay because many of the soccer clubs had yet to sign contracts with media companies. Most crucially, Greece’s soccer teams have, once again, called upon the State to bail them out of their economic woes. Clubs have brazenly threatened that if their demands are not met, they will derail the league. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos made some remarks that should be self-evident. He said that the State will not shoulder private economic responsibilities and financial deals. He added, however, that should reliable clubs emerge, the Greek soccer pool and lottery organization (OPAP) might help because it could be profitable. Venizelos, therefore, has created a loophole for the reconstitution of the clubs’ unacceptable and faulty funding. Venizelos’s remarks could be interpreted as the intention to include Greek teams in the Stoichima betting pools – although he ruled out such prospects. What should definitely be ruled out is any prospect of direct or indirect state funding. That would be scandalous and provoke public sentiment.