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French football bosses start shredding 3.2 billion euro Mediapro TV rights deal

Mediapro signed a deal to broadcast the bulk of Ligue 1 matches between 2020 and 2024.
Mediapro signed a deal to broadcast the bulk of Ligue 1 matches between 2020 and 2024. AFP/Archives
2 min

French football chiefs on Thursday confirmed they had begun formal procedures to tear up the 3.2 billion euro four-year TV rights contract with Mediator. The move could jeopardise the future of a host of French league clubs.

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The Sino-Spanish group signed an 800 million euro a year deal in May 2018 with the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) to broadcast the majority of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games between 2020-2024.

But after Mediapro missed two payments in October, the LFP said it had no choice but to seek alternatives with broadcasters such as Canal+ and bein sports.

"We have given them [Mediapro] formal notice to settle the deadlines of 1 and 5 October,” LFP executive director Arnaud Rouger wrote in a letter to clubs in the top two divisions.

“Either a favourable outcome is found with Mediapro, or not, and it will be necessary to envisage the contract being taken over by other operators.”

Brinkmanship

Earlier this month Mediapro boss Jaume Roures said that payments and contracts for French league games might have to be discussed and even renegotiated as company finances worldwide reeled from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The comments were interpreted as brinkmanship as part of a plan to reduce payments. 

"We have therefore applied the contract that binds us to Mediapro and put them on notice to settle the 1 and 5 October deadlines, while activating the guarantee given by the parent company of the Mediapro group,” Rouger added.

It is understood that while the LFP and Mediapro are in mediation talks, French league organisers cannot claim payments from Orient Hontai Capital, which is behind Mediapro.

While the wrangling continues, LFP executives have agreed to authorise a loan so it can channel desperately needed cash to clubs who are estimated to have lost 300 million euros in gate receipts following the March lockdown to step the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020/21 season has started with reduced numbers of fans in the grounds.

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