January 12 – French football has been in talks to reduce players’ salaries in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in a bid to mitigate the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the loss of the Mediapro media rights contract.
On Tuesday, the French Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) along with club presidents from both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 met with the French players’ union UNFP for a first round of talks that is aimed at substantial salary cuts for players.
Stade de Reims chairman Jean-Pierre Caillot, Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas, Racing Club supremo Marc Keller, FC Lorient boss Loïc Féry and AC Ajaccio chairman Christian Leca represented the clubs in the meeting. The clubs are reportedly demanding a 30% reduction in salaries. The UNFP has not made any comment.
The negotiations highlight how dire the situation remains in French football. The LFP is looking for a new broadcaster to enter the fray after the deal with Mediapro – worth in excess of €800 million a season – collapsed. Mediapro will pay €100 million in compensation for breaching the terms of the contract with an agreement that no further legal action will be pursued by the LFP.
The LFP had little choice but to take out a €120 million bank loan to cover the parachute payments to the clubs, in addition to the €224 million the league had borrowed from the French government last spring to help clubs handle the economic consequences of the pandemic. French football was one of the few leagues to cancel the reminder of the 2019-20 season after the global health crisis forced football to shutdown. The government has however said that it will not bail out the LFP over the current rights situation.
Matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are still being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, continuing the wipeout of matchday revenue that is crucial for many clubs.
The contraction of the international transfer market and new restrictions on recruitment for English clubs will likely lead to more revenue loss for French football, where vast disparities already exist between player salaries.
“Players who grew up in France notably are the main expatriate workforce in the English Premier League (47 players), the German Bundesliga (36), the Italian Serie A (35) and the Spanish Liga (30). The French represent the most represented foreign origin in eight other associations: Belgium (both 1st and 2nd division), Bulgaria, Turkey, Switzerland, Romania, Qatar, Algeria and Luxembourg,” said a recent CIES Football Observatory report.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1610877571labto1610877571ofdlr1610877571owedi1610877571sni@o1610877571fni1610877571