French football league to ask for government bailout to cover Covid losses
France's professional football league plans to ask the government for a financial rescue plan after record revenue losses caused by the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) after a meeting of its board Tuesday said it would be seeking a meeting with government agencies to seek an "emergency support plan".
The LFP, which runs the top two divisions in France, said its losses already amount to more than 1 billion euros, because of losses in TV income, combined with the loss of revenue from matches played without fans.
After ending its 2019/2020 season early, as the government shut down sports events to fight the first way of the Covid pandemic, the league started this season as scheduled in August, but fans have not been allowed in stadiums.
Overall revenue is 759 million euros, instead of the 1.3 billion euros originally budgeted by the clubs for the 2020-21 financial year, the league said.
And broadcast revenue has been disrupted. In December the LFP was forced to end its contract with Spanish broadcaster Mediapro after it backed out of a deal to air Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches. It missed scheduled payments worth more than 324 million euros.
Mediapro agreed to pay 100 million euros to give up its broadcasting rights. The deal had been expected to bring in 780 million euros per season for the next four years, through 2024.
The LFP was left without a domestic broadcaster, though last week it struck a deal with Canal+ to broadcast the remainder of this season’s matches, including all first-division games and eight matches from the second division from the 25th round of matches starting this weekend.
Canal+ reportedly paid 200 million euros for the rights.
The LFP has asked for a meeting with officials from the sports and finance ministries, not for compensation for the drop in TV revenue, but for its survival: “It is essential for the state to participate in helping professional clubs and their shareholders to overcome the emergencies that the Covid-19 crisis has created.”
The league had already taken out a state-guaranteed loan of 224.5 million euros to compensate for lost television income after the decision to end to last season early.
The government provided 100 million in euros in November as part of its plan to help professional clubs, but the LFP says it is not enough to survive the crisis.
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