French football’s latest attempt to replace a collapsed television rights deal flopped on Monday when bids for a new bid fell short of the expected price, pushing all-straining clubs deeper into the crisis.
The news gave a new blow to cash-strapped football clubs facing serious financial difficulties from empty arenas during the coronavirus pandemic. It increased fears of a growing gap between those like Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain, which is filled with cash, and smaller clubs.
The French league said they received offers from US-owned Amazon, Discovery and DAZN to show matches from the top two divisions, but said all bids were below the minimum required.
“Given that the reserve price has not been reached, the consultations (bids) have been declared unsuccessful,” the league said in a statement on Monday without disclosing financial details. “LFP takes 48 hours to define the next step in commercializing its rights,” the statement added.
Canal +, the traditional broadcaster of French football, and beIN Sports, which has been showing French games for several years, were apparently absent from the bidding process.
French football remains stuck in financial uncertainty months after a major broadcasting rights deal with Spanish-based Mediapro fell through. The lucrative deal should have generated more than € 4 billion ($ 4.8 billion) over four years for France’s top two leagues. Instead, it capsized after just four months.
This seems bad.
And reading the tea leaves a bit to be desired: if Ligue 1’s TV revenues collapse, the gap between the Qatari-funded Paris Saint-Germain and the rest of the league will only widen. Thus, the league makes less viewable and its TV rights worth … even less. https://t.co/6wTY3niWQE
– Leander Schaerlaeckens (@LeanderAlphabet) February 1, 2021
In December, LFP was forced to terminate its agreement with Mediapro, which created a new subscription channel called Telefoot to show matches but missed scheduled payments of 172 million euros (209 million dollars) and 152.5 million euros (185 million dollars) before the contact drugs.
Mediapro then agreed with LFP to pay 100 million euros (122 million dollars) so that it could waive its rights to play and thus pave the way for the bidding rights at the league’s headquarters in Paris on Monday morning.
Canal Plus legal match
The established French broadcaster Canal + seemed to many observers the most likely buyer for the recently restored rights. Instead, it went into conflict with LFP in recent weeks and demanded the return of the rights it acquired to play TV during the first bidding process that Mediapro won.
Canal + claimed that the price paid then for sublicensing games from beIN Sports – 332 million euros (400 million dollars) per year for just two games each week – was far too high given Mediapro’s subsequent merger.
Canal + president Maxime Saada wanted all rights to be returned for a new bidding process, and not just the 80% of the games originally purchased by Mediapro. The LFP did not agree, Canal + brought legal action and they will meet in court this month.
( Jowharwith AP)