LFP and BeIN reach settlement over Ligue 1 international TV money
By Jonathan Rest
The LFP, the French professional soccer league, and BeIN Sports, pay-television operator, today reached an agreement on the final instalment of Ligue 1 international rights fees for the 2019-20 season, which was cancelled at the end of last month because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The LFP said that, having reached similar settlements with BeIN and rival Canal Plus over domestic fees last month, all broadcast payments for the 2019-20 season have been "definitely settled."
BeIN owed around €35 million ($39 million) for the international rights but missed the 30 April payment deadline.
It is thought the agreement with the league is for just over half that amount.
BeIN holds international rights to Ligue 1 in a deal running from 2018-19 to 2023-24 that is worth, on average, €80 million per season. It is a contract that has angered a number of clubs - Lyon have even threatened legal action - which believe it is significantly undervalued.
BeIN also holds domestic rights to Ligue 1, along with pay-TV rival Canal Plus, and last month the two agreed to pay €47 million for the matches played before the mid-March suspension of the league.
That suspension became a cancellation when French prime minister Edouard Philippe effectively ended the soccer season, announcing that no sporting events, even behind closed doors, will be permitted until 1 September as France bids to prevent a second wave of Covid-19.
Canal Plus and BeIN had earlier refused to pay the next instalments of €110 million and €42 million respectively, due on 5 April, and were due to make a final payment for this season on 5 June.
After weeks of tense negotiations, a settlement was eventually reached, which resulted in Canal Plus paying €37 million and BeIN €10 million.
BeIN, market newcomer Mediapro and Free will share Ligue 1 live coverage from 2020-21, having snapped up the rights for a total of €1.153 billion per season, a 59-per-cent uplift on the value of the deal that ended with the 2019-20 campaign.The LFP said in a statement today: "After the agreement obtained with Canal + and BeIN Sports concerning domestic audiovisual rights, this decision allows the rights owed by broadcasters to the LFP to be definitively settled for the 2019-2020 season.
"At the end of this meeting, the LFP welcomes the constructive dialogue with the official Ligue 1 broadcasters Conforama and Domino’s Ligue 2, which made it possible to reach these agreements.
"These agreements should not make us forget the unprecedented economic crisis facing French football. During this meeting, the LFP Bureau recalled that the 2020-2021 season will be able to restart as agreed next August with friendly preparation matches in July."
The economic crisis referred to by the LFP is evident by the state loan, reported to be worth over €220 million, that the league took out in order to pay clubs in the top two divisions the remaining money owed from this season's media rights contracts.
Earlier this month, the LFP's general assembly adopted a resolution to allow the LFP to contract France's state-guaranteed loan (PGE), which allows companies to request a loan from their bank for up to 25 per cent of their last turnover to get them through the pandemic.
The LFP will underwrite the loan, rather than the 40 teams in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.Sportcal