Troubled French league agrees stopgap broadcast deal with Canal+


France’s troubled Ligue 1 on Thursday reached an agreement with Canal Plus to broadcast the remainder of matches this season following the spectacular collapse of a record contract with Mediapro.

The league was left without a domestic broadcast partner after the Mediapro deal, which had been expected to bring in 780 million euros ($941 million) per season for the four years to 2024, was terminated in December.

The 80 percent of TV rights vacated as a result were put up for tender on Monday, although none of the three candidates — Amazon, DAZN or Discovery — met the asking price.

Sources told AFP that Canal Plus offered to pay an additional 35 million euros to broadcast the rest of the season, on top of its existing deal worth 330 million euros for the other 20 percent of the rights.

According to the same sources, television income for top-flight clubs will drop by 49 percent this season. There will be a 40 percent dip in Ligue 2.

Canal Plus did not take part in this week’s call to tender. The company had wanted to rip up its initial deal and have it also put out to tender again.

The latest agreement brings an end to the protracted exit of Mediapro, whose contract was torn up barely four months in after the Spanish company — controlled by a Chinese investment fund — failed to meet payment deadlines.

However, the pact with Canal Plus only covers the rest of the 2020-21 campaign, meaning the rights will need to be renegotiated for the following seasons.

The original deal struck in 2018 was due to net French clubs a combined 1.15 billion euros annually, comparable with Germany, Spain and Italy if not the Premier League.

It was revealed last week that Ligue 1 clubs were set to suffer catastrophic combined losses of more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.57 billion) this season due to a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic — which has led to games being played in empty stadiums — and the collapse of the Mediapro deal.

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