Pachuca owner slams Mexico TV rights deal over lack of transparency

Pachuca owner Jesus Martinez has fiercely criticized the Mexican federation's recent deal to grant Televisa and TV Azteca television rights until after the 2026 World Cup.

Martinez was one of four Liga MX owners to vote against the deal, with the club president suggesting in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday that the Mexican federation (FMF) could have gotten much better terms.

There had been a separate and, according to various reports, more lucrative proposal from a joint bid from NBC Universal/Telemundo and America Movil -- owned by Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim - which didn't include domestic TV rights within Mexico.

"The offer was amazing," said Martinez. "[And] if you add that the offer didn't include Mexico... it's because of that I don't like how it's being handled."

The sticking point was an "automatic renewal clause" for a further eight years in the current contract, which meant that rivals bids apparently couldn't be accepted.

Martinez said that when the current deal was signed eight years ago, Liga MX club owners weren't given access to the contract and called for greater transparency in such matters.

"I want to make a complaint that they didn't show the contract from eight years ago to any of the clubs," said Martinez, who implied he still hadn't seen the renewal clause. "We asked for the contract and they didn't give it us."

"We aren't against the TV companies, but in favor of a transparent Mexico," Martinez added.

The Pachuca president thanked Monterrey, Tigres and Lobos BUAP for their support, with the three institutions also voting against the renovation of the deal.

Martinez suggested that the commercialization committee set up to study options for a new TV deal for the national team -- including directors from Club Tijuana, Pumas, Santos Laguna and Monterrey -- only saw the previous contract the night before announcing the new one.

Martinez said Mexican football had "let a big opportunity go" and that there should've been more time given to exploring other potential deals, especially in the wake of the Sept. 19 earthquake in the country.

The direct influence of domestic TV companies on the running of the Mexican national team is a regular allegation in Mexico, although not much in the way of concrete evidence is provided.

In Mexico, Liga MX owners are an important part of the decision-making process when it comes to the national team, something with which former El Tri manager Sven-Goran Eriksson struggled to come to terms.

Santos Laguna president Alejandro Irarragorri, part of the FMF's commercialization committee, stressed that "we've been able to improve the terms substantially for the different markets," on announcing the deal last Friday.

Irarragorri vigorously defended the renewal, indicating that eradicating the "automatic renewal clause" in the new contract will mean there will be an open bidding process in eight years time.

TV rights at league level have opened up in recent years as rival broadcasters challenged the traditional Televisa-TV Azteca duopoly, sparking speculation that the national team would also look to open up the bidding process.