French league short of cash as broadcasters say they will withhold rights fees

LFP France

March 31 – French football is staring down the financial barrel as domestic broadcaster Canal Plus, a long-time rights holder of Ligue 1, is holding up the release of a scheduled €110 million payment. 

The stand-off between  TV operator Canal+ and the country’s Ligue de Football Professionel (LFP) could have far-reaching consequences for domestic clubs if Canal+  follows through on its intention to hold back the payment. BeIN Sports is also considering withholding its payment of €42 million to the league. The money is due on April 5. The two broadcasters hold the rights to Ligue 1 for the 2016-2020 cycle.

According to French sports daily L’Equipe, Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada wrote to the LFP, outlining that it was “not conceivable that would we would pay future instalments while, even if its due to the suspension of the Ligue 1 championship, no match can be played and, by extension, distributed on our channels.”

Saada pointed out that his group has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus crisis and that advertising revenues were in freefall.

The news has left French clubs in dire straits, who, following a meeting of clubs leaders, have agreed on the need for the league to resume, even if matches have to be played behind closed doors.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the French clubs have moved to a system of partial or technical unemployment for their players. Each club pays 70% of the base salary to its employees, and receives a reimbursement from the State limited to €5,400 per person.

France, along with Spain and Italy, has been among the worst affected countries in Europe. More than 40,000 confirmed cases have been registered and more than 3,000 lives have been lost.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1600937248labto1600937248ofdlr1600937248owedi1600937248sni@o1600937248fni1600937248