November 15, 2019 / 11:24 AM / 3 months ago

BT keeps Champions League soccer rights in $1.5 billion UK deal

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain - June 1, 2019 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson lifts the trophy as they celebrate after winning the Champions League REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - BT has retained the UK broadcast rights to Champions League soccer for three years from 2021 at an annual cost of 400 million pounds ($512 million), despite reported competition from rival Sky.

The price is in line with the current three-year contract but BT said it covered an additional 77 matches as well as the rights to highlights and in-match clips.

The renegotiation had been seen as a test of the appetite of BT Chief Executive Philip Jansen, who took on the role in February, to spend on sports rights.

The deal also covers matches from the Europa League and a planned third competition for European clubs, BT said in a statement on Friday.

“We’re delighted to remain the home of UEFA Champions League in the UK,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division

BT has had the rights to European club soccer since 2015 after ousting Sky and ITV. Sky, now owned by U.S. media group Comcast, had been expected to bid to win back the rights.

The news helped BT shares to make up some lost ground after Britain’s opposition Labour Party said it would nationalise BT’s fixed line network to provide free full-fibre broadband for all if it wins the election next month.

($1 = 0.7815 pounds)

Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Mark Potter and Alexander Smith

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