French football deadlocked

While the championship is to resume on August 6, French football is sinking into a crisis with an uncertain outcome. Thursday, July 15, the television rights series experienced a new twist: BeIN sued its partner Canal + to force it to respect the contract that binds them. Since mid-June and the attribution by the Professional Football League (LFP) of 80% of the elite matches to Amazon, the management of the encrypted channel has not wavered. She refuses to pay 332 million euros for two games, while the American giant will broadcast eight per day for 259 million euros.

This situation is the consequence of the failure of the Sino-Spanish group Mediapro, which had won, in May 2018 by tender, 80% of the rights of the L1 for the record amount of 780 million euros per year until 2024. Bredouille, Canal + reacted by buying back from BeIN the right to broadcast the two best posters per day (Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.) at a high price.

Read the analysis: After Mediapro fiasco, French football clubs realize they’re sitting on a pile of sand, not gold

With the fall of Mediapro, in the fall of 2020, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the value of these rights is no longer the same in the eyes of the management of Canal +, which seized the commercial court and the Competition Authority to cancel this contract, without success. The LFP, for its part, is inflexible and demands that the agreement be respected. It is all the more firm as most of the elite clubs, which are emerging bloodless from the health crisis, urgently need new money.

Poor health of clubs

After the LFP chose Amazon as its main partner for the next three seasons, Maxime Saada, the boss of Canal +, a long-standing partner of French football, announced that his channel would no longer broadcast a match of the French championship. BeIN, which is bound by contract with the LFP and Canal +, fears paying the price for the war between them. “The Qatari channel fears being caught in the crossfire. It is to protect her interests that she resolved to sue Canal +, explains a person close to the file. On the merits, she also believes that the amount negotiated in 2018 is obsolete, but she refuses to plunge French football into chaos three weeks before the resumption of the championship. “

On the side of the League, it is radio silence. Its leaders find themselves in an awkward position. “Since the attribution of the TV rights to Mediapro in 2018, they have multiplied the mistakes, considers sports economist Jean-Pascal Gayant. After such a slump, they should have privileged security and accepted the offer of BeIN and Canal +, very close to that of Amazon. It was naive to think that Canal + would honor its commitments under these conditions. “

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