Friday, July 10, 2020

“We are in a game of lying poker between the LFP and its broadcasters” explains Étienne Moatti, journalist for L’Équipe

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Mediapro, future broadcaster of the French football championship, says it is ready to take over from Canal + and beIN Sports which have stopped their payment to the Professional Football League.

We are in a liar poker game between the LFP and its broadcasters“explains Étienne Moatti, journalist for L’Équipe and guest of franceinfo Wednesday, April 8. The reporter published in the columns of the sports daily – partner of the Radio France group – on April 9 the interview with Jaume Roures, president of Mediapro, future broadcaster of the French championship. Mediapro says it is ready to take over from Canal + and beIN Sports, channels currently holding the rights, which stopped payment of the Professional Football League (LFP) after the cessation of football competitions due to the coronavirus epidemic. Jaume Roures indeed declares to The Team that “Mediapro is ready to broadcast the end of the season“, and criticizes the role played by Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the boss of Paris Saint-Germain and beIN Media Group.

franceinfo: What is the purpose of this shocking statement by Jaume Roures who claims that Mediapro is able to broadcast the end of the French championship season?

Etienne Moatti: Already, he is trying to convince the clubs that as of next season, he will be able to broadcast Ligue 1. Doubts could remain because, for the moment, we do not see much coming. The Mediapro chain has not yet been created and agreements with distributors have not been signed. By announcing that he can take over from Canal and beIN Sports, which have stopped their payments to the LFP, this further supports the idea that he will be ready next season.

Can we imagine that Mediapro broadcasts the end of the season if it resumes?

It is rather a communication operation because, for the moment, the contracts which link Canal, beIN Sports and the LFP have not been broken, even if there is an absence of payment. A delegation from the League went to negotiate with Canal to try to convince the encrypted channel. They may also do it with beIN. But the particularity noted by Jaume Roures, the president of Mediapro, is that at the head of this delegation of the League, we find Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the boss of PSG but also the boss of beIN Sports at the global level. Al-Khelaïfi does not pay the money he owes to the LFP but he is the one who will have to negotiate to try to convince himself to pay it, which is quite paradoxical. We are in a liar poker game between the LFP and its broadcasters. It still seems hardly imaginable that Mediapro manage to broadcast the end of the current season. Maxime Saada, president of the Canal group, will obviously not let Mediapro have this edge. For the moment, it is still Canal and beIN which broadcast L1. You should also know that Canal has recovered from beIN the rights for the next four years of Ligue 1. They will be, with Mediapro, one of the broadcasters of the French championship and will not unpack the red carpet as easily. I think that there will be a form of agreement that will be found between Canal, beIN Sports and the LFP, which will prevent Mediapro from sneaking in.

Can you remember what Mediapro is exactly?

Mediapro’s main specialty is television production. We can even speak of a world benchmark. This is the group that made the chains of beIN Sports in France. They have real expertise in this area. They also entered the rights market, broadcasting the local league, La Liga, in Spain. They want to settle in France but their coming is surrounded by questions, because it is today complicated to create an additional sports channel on the French market, rather saturated. But they are serious people, who have a powerful shareholder behind them, a Chinese investment fund. They have quite a good reputation. On the side of the League, we hope that things will go well because Mediapro has promised a 60% increase in football broadcasting rights on television compared to the current contract. And when we see that the broadcasters are not paying and that we think of the crisis that the French clubs will experience, some of which are in default, it is a considerable issue.

What can be the consequence of the non-payment of broadcasters to clubs?

TV rights represent 50% of the budget of football clubs. The last payment was made on February 5. Today is April and it’s been a long, long time for clubs. Some have strong kidneys, others much less. French football and its clubs lost 160 million euros last season. If you are cut 50% of your personal budget for several months, I let you imagine what it is for football clubs.

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