Canal Plus to return Ligue 1 rights and calls for new tender
Canal Plus, the French pay-television broadcaster, is to return its Ligue 1 rights and wants a new tender process to be launched, chairman Maxime Saada has said, further escalating the crisis in French soccer.
Canal Plus has been showing two Ligue 1 games per matchday this season, at 9pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday, after sub-licensing rights from pay-TV rival BeIN Sports in a wider distribution deal worth around €330 million ($402 million) per season, but Saada said the broadcaster will give up the package next month because the rights have been devalued.
He told Le Figaro in an interview: "We will keep our lot until February 5 since we have paid until then... We came to the conclusion on the Canal Plus side that it was in the interest of all stakeholders to go through a call for tenders. We therefore sent a letter to the LFP to inform them of the return of lot 3 that BeIN Sports has sublicensed us."
Canal Plus' move would allow the LFP to re-tender its full rights. The league regained 80 per cent of its domestic rights last month after a commercial court approved the terms of the split agreed with Spanish company Mediapro.
The league and Mediapro France had dramatically terminated a four-year deal worth €3.3 billion that only come into effect this season.
Mediapro had missed payments of €172.3 million on 5 October and €152.5 million on 5 December to show the bulk of matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
Téléfoot, the pay-television channel that Mediapro established to show eight games from each round of matches in the top two divisions, has offered to continue showing the matches until a new broadcasting partner is secured. At present it will definitely show matches until 31 January, and possibly beyond.
In the short term, Saada has suggested the LFP launches a pay-per-view model for Ligue 1 and 2 matches.
Mediapro had blown other broadcasters out of the water in striking the deal with the LFP, worth €830 million per season, but the company has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, while subscriptions failed to meet expectations, and it was unable to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.
Saada said all along that Mediapro had overpaid for the rights.