Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier of Tottenham Hotspur watch as Jamie Vardy of Leicester City jumps off the ball during the Premier League game on July 19, 2020 in London, England.
Tottenham Hotspur FC | Tottenham Hotspur FC | Getty Images
The English Premier League has canceled a major contract with the Chinese streaming service PPTV, which means that the digital broadcaster will no longer be able to show live football matches.
"The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its #PL coverage agreements in China with its licensee in this area," the Premier League announced on Twitter on Thursday.
"The #PL will not be making any further comments on the matter at this point," the statement said.
PPTV is owned by Suning, a Chinese conglomerate that acquired a majority stake in Italian club Inter Milan for $ 307 million in 2016.
That same year, PPTV reportedly paid the Premier League around $ 650 million for the rights to air fixtures between 2019 and 2022. The three-season deal was hailed as the Premier League's largest overseas television deal, but it was after only one Terminated season.
PPTV has withheld a payment of £ 160 million ($ 213 million) for coverage of the 2019-20 season due in March, according to the Daily Mail.
Around the same time, the Premier League was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. The new season starts on September 12th.
It has been suggested that PPTV may have pulled the plug due to mounting tension between the UK and China. This year, the UK banned Chinese telecom company Huawei's 5G devices from its networks, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson opposed Hong Kong's new security laws.
Suning did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment, but PPTV reportedly said in a statement: "After many rounds of talks, disagreements persist over the value of rights between PPTV and the Premier League. Unfortunately, we have not reached an agreement with the Premier League."
"Although PPTV pays the Premier League more than the copyright fee in advance as agreed, PPTV will end its relationship with the Premier League," the statement said.
TV rights money is being passed on to the 20 Premier League clubs, so the contract termination could harm everyone from Manchester United and Liverpool to Leeds and Sheffield United.
Disclosure: CNBC parent Comcast / NBCUniversal has television rights to English Premier League football matches.