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Ligue 1 rights picture in disarray as LFP and Mediapro agree to cancel deal

Teléfoot network to be shuttered as Spanish-based agency agrees to pay €100m compensation.

11 December 2020 Tom Bassam

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  • 160 jobs scrapped as Mediapro’s €814m a year domestic rights deal is torn up
  • Teléfoot to continue to broadcast games until new deal is agreed
  • Canal + waiting in the wings to secure cut-price contract

The Professional Football League (LFP) is set to cancel its domestic broadcast partnership with Mediapro for French soccer’s top two tiers, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

The Barcelona-based media agency has failed to pay its rights fee instalments – worth €172.3 million (US$208 million) and €152.5 million (US$184 million) respectively – which were due on 5th October and 5th December.

Now, according to L’Equipe, Mediapro France’s chief executive, Julien Bergeaud, has told staff at Teléfoot, the network launched in September to carry its soccer content, is being wound up at the cost of 160 jobs.

According to RMC, Mediapro is paying €100 million (US$121 million) in compensation for failing to meet the terms of the contract with an agreement that no further legal action will be pursued by the LFP. Reports suggest that Teléfoot will continue to broadcast matches until a new rights deal has been agreed.

Mediapro’s deal with the French soccer league body, signed in 2018, is worth €780 million (US$939 million) per season from 2021/22 to 2023/24 for the Ligue 1 rights , with the second-tier Ligue 2 contract worth €34 million (US$40 million) per season.

The agency paid its first instalment of €172.3 million (US$208 million) in August but has since withheld further payments, claiming to seek a renegotiated fee for the 2020/21 season in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The LFP has already had to take out a €120 million (US$145 million) bank loan to cover the payments to its clubs, in addition to the €224 million (US$271 million) it borrowed from the French government in May to help clubs deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. The state has said it will not provide any further funds to bail out the LFP with regards to the rights situation.

The beneficiary could be Canal +. The Vivendi-owned pay-TV network, which was previously Ligue 1’s main broadcaster and now holds a smaller package of rights worth €330 million (US$400 million) per season, is reportedly prepared to pay €690 million (US$836 million) per season for all Ligue 1 television rights, made up of a fixed sum of €590 million (US$715 million) and subscription-related bonuses.

Maxime Saada, president of Canal+, previously described Mediapro's rights deal as “untenable” and warned the LFP that the broadcaster would not ride in to the rescue, saying that Ligue 1’s rights had been devalued this season.

In the midst of the drama surrounding its rights contracts the LFP voted on 10th December to pursue the establishment of a commercial subsidiary to manage its broadcast and sponsorship contracts. That move needs to be ratified by the French Football Federation (FFF) and the government.

The LFP is set to cancel its domestic broadcast partnership with Mediapro

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