Amr Wahby, the director of Presentation Sport, the exclusive sponsor of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and the league, talked about sponsoring Al Ahly, Zamalek contract, and the company’s journey in the football sponsorship in Egypt, during an interview with Daily News Egypt, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How did Presentation win after the dispute between Sela and Al Ahly?
In fact, they were very difficult negotiations. We had to offer over EGP 500m. Hours before the contract’s announcement at the press conference, Al Ahly did not reply to the offer we presented. This is a great breakthrough for us and for Al Ahly as well. I Hope the quality of service we provide will be adequate for both parties.
What about your contract with Zamalek?
Zamalek’s previous contract with the company was for EGP 86m for our years in 2014. As the club gained the league and the cup, they hiked it to EGP 140m. The current contract could reach EGP 450m if the team wins all championships.
But the club announced the termination of the contract with you. What is your comment?
No comment. We have offered much to the club, and have we were very attached to it. It is an honour for us to be sponsors of the two largest clubs in Egypt. We carefully study any deals away from emotions.
Do you see a gap between Al Ahly and Zamalek’s sponsorship contracts?
There is no gap between both teams in terms of the worth of contracts which could almost be double. Zamalek is not doing itself favours in terms of marketing, due to lack of long-term stability and the presence of appointed boards, unlike Al Ahly, which was chaired by Hassan Hamdy.
How many clubs do you sponsor?
The company owns the exclusive rights to television broadcasts of all the Premier League clubs. And in terms of commercial rights, we owns those of 14 clubs, and 50% of Wadi Degla’s, which preferred to keep half the rights to market its products. Only Al Ahly, Pyramids, and Gouna did not contract with us. We also have the commercial rights of the EFA.
How do you evaluate clubs to determine the amount of responsibility?
The way we evaluate clubs in terms of the value of their commercial and broadcast rights depends on the points system, through the popularity and history in the Egyptian league since 1948, its achievements, and ranking in the past five years. The points are then converted into financial transactions. Out assessment is always correct. We work on promoting clubs by offering incentives for their achievements.
How much do you think the Egyptian league is worth?
The Egyptian league championship, in terms of television broadcasts in the current season, is estimated at about EGP 500m. This could double if six things happen: fans return to stadiums, raising the efficiency of stadiums, improving television broadcast rights, improving the performance of referees, imposing strict regulations, and announcing dates of matches earlier. These could all have a major impact.
Do you have specific plans for that?
We established Estadat-Stadiums to raise the efficiency of pitches, and improve them to match the value of the Egyptian league. The same goes for Live, which we aim to use to reach the best means of television broadcasts, and provide HD quality for viewers.
What are the damages caused by Sela terminating the broadcast television contract with you?
The termination of the contract caused a crisis, given the contract’s high value, after which the cost of broadcasting games hiked, along with sponsorship contracts, which caused huge losses. We are now trying to offset this by looking for alternative funding resources to avoid pressuring clubs.
What is the secret of not having a strong competitor?
We entered at the right time and managed to win the confidence of the clubs in terms of dealing with credibility. We had a vision and entered seriously at a time when others were worried about this, which enabled us to gain the confidence of these clubs.
How much is your investment in Egyptian football?
The company, with its launch in 2013, was aiming to reach EGP 1.2bn in 2018. We went even further with EGP 250m.
Is it possible to set up a network of subscription channels?
No, it is not possible that the company establishes a network of subscription channels to broadcast the league games, because of the high costs. I am surprised that some ignore the establishment cost of subscription-based platforms. We are a commercial rights company and we sell and broadcast.
And what about buying the rights to broadcast major tournaments?
With regard to the purchase of the rights of major tournaments such as the World Cup and the CAF tournament, they also require huge funds and investors that trust the company. More importantly, there are rights up for sale. The African Nations tournament was sold until 2028 and the World Cup until 2026.
Can you buy or establish a club?
The company cannot think of buying or establishing clubs unless it changes the activity, so that there is no conflict of interest which is not legally or morally permissible.
What is the positive impact of football on the sponsors?
Football’s positive influence on the sponsors is tangible through SAIB Bank, which was present since 1976. The bank’s ranking was 24th before signing the contract with Zamalek. Now the bank has managed to become the 6th top bank.
Do you face any difficulties with sponsors?
The difficulties in marketing sponsors are with the clubs of associated with institutions and companies, not popular clubs. We want to distribute sponsorships across clubs so that everyone can get a good financial return.
What do you think of the new sports law?
The new sports law will not affect the sports movement. It is for the benefit only for the concerned bodies, but it is not in favour of sports in terms of investment.
Can you tell us about the company’s start?
In 2013, I presented the matter to Mohamed Kamel, who is now the company’s CEO. It was then specialised in outdoor marketing. We seized the commercial and broadcast rights for six clubs. Out first deal was worth EGP 4m with Al Ittihad Alexandria Club, then Ismaili, ENPPI, and Petrojet. We aimed to contract with 16 clubs, which we failed to achieve in the first season. Then, we contracted with MBC in the following season for $15m. The number of clubs reached 13, including Zamalek.
You faced a major crisis following MBC’s withdrawal from broadcasting the league in 2015. How did you overcome this?
The biggest crisis we have experienced after the Air Defence Stadiums incident was the termination of the MBC contract. We received support from the SAIB Bank. The clubs supported us by waiting for their dues. The broadcasting of the league on Nile Sport only was one of the solutions, even though we were paying EGP 64m for broadcasting rights. Yet, we concluded the season and paid all the clubs’ rights.
Did things settle down after that?
In the following seasons it stabilised with the entry of ON channel and their purchase of the rights to broadcast the games for EGP 250m for two seasons. The contract was then renewed for EGP 320m. The current season is one of the rights, on which basis the partnership with Al-masryeen media was signed.
You have substantial experience in the EFA. Tell us about this?
I was a former football player in Zamalek and the Egyptian National Team. I suffered an injury and travelled to England to play in a third-class club. There, I looked at football differently. I gained some experience. When I came back to Cairo, I met with Ahmed Shobeir, through whom I entered the EFA with several marketing ideas.
What are your most important contributions?
I contributed in 1998 with the first prospectus to be put in the association to sell the rights. I started officially working in 2000. My most prominent contribution was the proposal to play the Super Game in 2001. The association’s rights increased to EGP 4m in 1998. After adding some products, such as friendly games, the value increased to EGP 16m in the 2002-2006 contract, then to EGP 32m in 2006-2010. Following that, came the contract, which was not finalised, with Promo Ad, worth EGP 52.25m. Afterwards I left the association in 2013.
That was in terms of commercial rights but what about broadcast rights?
I contributed a project similar to Presentation to the association. It was listed in the council of Samir Zaher’s electoral programme in 2008. At the time, I was in charge of this programme, but the clubs did not all agree on collective selling, which caused the programme to fail. When the broadcasting rights of Al Ahly, Zamalek, and Ismailiy were sold for EGP 1m to ART, OSN, and Dream in 2006, the collective selling happened. Then the sale took place for EGP 3m to Modern, Dream, and AlHayah. We then reached an idea for collective selling. We had a problem in convincing the administrations of Al Ahly and Zamalek. The biggest problem was the instability of Zamalek. Eventually, we formed a seven-party committee, which was the core of the clubs’ committees in 2009. We hit the bylaws at the time, as the EFA was selling for the benefit of the clubs to match the bylaws. I managed to bring in an offer from EMG for EGP 180m in 2010 when Anas ElFeky was Minister of Media and aborted this decision to support private channels. The games were broadcasted on nine channels, which devaluated the product. The league was sold to all of them for EGP 100m. Clubs agreed on commercial and broadcast rights’ marketing through a company to be established when Hassan Sakr was the Minister of Sports. The decision was aborted through officials in the association who believed it was better for them to keep the situation as it was. When Taher Abou Zeid took over the Ministry of Sports, Hassan Hamdy left the committee. I was thanked in 2013.