French football looks to be first significant COVID-19 casualty in world sport

Following the news that BeIN Sports and Canal+ have refused to take part in the new tender process for the rights to Ligue 1;

Conrad Wiacek, Head of Sport Analysis at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the state of the French media rights market:

“BeIN Sports and Canal+ declining to participate in the new tender process will come as a huge blow to the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP). The LFP is seeking a buyer for 80% of rights to matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 after a lucrative contract with Mediapro, the Spanish media company, was terminated after just a few months. The situation largely began with the suspension of French football by the French Government in early 2020.

“The LFP and Mediapro terminated their four-year deal worth €3.3bn in December after Mediapro missed payments of €172.3m on 5 October and €152.5m on 5 December to show the bulk of matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. Rivals such as BeIN Sport and Canal+ believe the MediaPro deal has devalued the media rights market in France and therefore are unwilling to entertain any bids for the new rights package, which they claim must be retendered.

“With no hint that Amazon or DAZN will entertain matching or even coming close to matching rights fees paid previously, French football may see a situation where talent will have to be sold in order to balance the books and ensure compliance with FFP, which will be significant for the likes of Paris Saint Germain who are looking to renew the contract of French superstar Kylian Mbappe. While many leagues, such as the English Premier League, will likely see a reduction in rights fees during the next rights cycle, none are facing a crisis as deep as French football, which could end up as the biggest loser of the whole COVID-19 pandemic.”

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