October 16 – The French League (LFP) has formally demanded that Spanish media rights agency Mediapro pay €172 million due as part of its Ligue 1 broadcast deal.
“We have enforced our contract with Mediapro and have given them formal notice to pay the instalments of Oct. 1 and 5, while activating the guarantee given by the parent company of the Mediapro group,” LFP’s executive general director Arnaud Rouger told French sports daily L’Equipe.
“There are then two possibilities, either a favourable outcome is found with Mediapro, or it is not the case, and we will have to consider a takeover of the contract by other operators.”
Rouger’s remarks are the clearest indication yet that the league is prepared to rip up its contract with Mediapro and perhaps turn to Canal+ or beINSports for a new deal. The Spanish agency, majority-owned by Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai, and the LFP entered a record deal this year with Mediapro paying €800 million per year for the domestic tv rights for the top two divisions.
In August, Mediapro established a new channel to broadcast French league games as well as Champions League and Europa League matches, but the agency has asked to renegotiate the agreement because of the coronavirus pandemic. Broadcast income accounts for about 36% of revenue for French clubs and without the tv payment clubs could struggle to fulfil primary obligations in the near future.
The rights contract covers four seasons, but Mediapro failed to pay €172 million due at the start of this month. The unpaid money compounds the financial crisis in French football. The 2019/2020 Ligue 1 was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis and clubs are struggling this season because of a lack of matchday revenue. The LFP has already taken out a state-guaranteed loan of €224.5 million to mitigate the financial fall out.
AFP reports that Mediapro has gone to a commercial tribunal near Paris to begin mediation procedures to allow for a renegotiation of the broadcast deal.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1603327210labto1603327210ofdlr1603327210owedi1603327210sni@o1603327210fni1603327210