Canadian Soccer Business, Mediapro trade accusations in court filings

TORONTO — The opening blows have been delivered in a court battle that could have major implications for how Canadian soccer fans view the domestic brand of the beautiful game.

On one side is Canadian Soccer Business, whose investor group and board includes the Canadian Premier League owners. CSB looks after marketing and broadcast rights for both the CPL, which is entering his sixth season, and Canada Soccer.

On the other is Mediapro, CSB’s Barcelona-based media partner — a global entity that produces content for 16 soccer leagues worldwide.

Both sides want out of the 10-year agreement struck in 2019, saying the other failed to live up to the deal. And both want the other to pay for it.

None of their claims have been proven yet, with the ball now in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. But CSB says it has taken back its rights from Mediapro and is looking for other broadcast partners.

In a five-page notice of action, CSB alleges Mediapro has reneged on its payments and “improperly repudiated” their agreement covering media rights and production, broadcast and distribution.

In a 32-page statement of claim, Mediapro alleges CSB has not lived up to its promises, saying that halfway through the agreement CSB has delivered just over a quarter of the number of required matches (a guaranteed minimum of 2,042 CPL and Canadian Championship games by 2028).

Mediapro also says the league had promised to expand to 10 teams by 2020 and 16 teams by 2024.

“The league has remained stagnant at eight teams since 2020 and shows signs of decline rather than growth,” the statement of claim says.

“Mediapro has delivered on its bargain. CSB has materially failed to do so and provides no reasonable prospect of doing so within the agreed upon term,” it adds.

Mediapro wants damages of at least $50 million, court costs and a declaration that it was within its right to terminate the deal.

“No entity has invested more in Canadian soccer than Mediapro,” it says in its statement of claim.

“Currently, Mediapro’s investment into Canadian soccer exceeds $60 million which is a combination of capital expenditures, operation and production costs and licence fees,” it added.

In its filing, Canadian Soccer Business alleges Mediapro did not meet its requirements, including failing to deliver on a sub-licensing arrangement for linear television broadcasting that would expose its content to a greater audience via

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