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After the Mediapro fiasco, French football clubs realize they are sitting on a pile of sand, not gold

By dint of inflating a balloon, it explodes. To put it less trivially: in France, professional football clubs have speculated on television revenues, and the disappearance of a good part of this manna, in the second half of 2020, exposed the fragility of their economic model to light. .

“The billion! The billion! », Exclaimed, in 2018, the Professional Football League (LFP), when the Sino-Spanish group Mediapro had committed to pay it a record sum: nearly 830 million euros per year to broadcast the majority of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches over the period 2020-2024, in addition to the Qatari network BeIN Sports, which ended up reselling its shares – 330 million euros – to Canal +.

Mediapro promised a lot. Too much. Conclusion: only one installment has been paid, the first (172 million), almost five months ago, at the beginning of the current season. Two payments not made later, the commercial court of Nanterre whistled, on December 22, the end of the game, validating a withdrawal agreement between the main broadcaster and the League.

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Unable to ensure the due dates of October and December (324 million cumulatively), the bad payer must pay compensation of 100 million euros for the balance of any account. Barely four months after its launch, its pay channel, Téléfoot, is already preparing to close. It is obliged to continue to broadcast the matches until January 31, 2021 at the latest.

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The time for the League to proceed with a new sale of the rights put back on the market. But to what other chain, and at what value? Many expectations are now based on Canal +, a historic broadcaster, which is already broadcasting two weekly matches this season.

Request for a parliamentary inquiry

It is difficult to know what the precise impact of the crisis due to Covid-19 will have been on Mediapro’s finances. It is also difficult to know if, from May 29, 2018, the winner of the overbidding had the means to assume his initial stake. The day before, Italian football had canceled its contract with the same group, for lack of a bank guarantee.

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A parliamentary inquiry could look into the conditions under which the League had organized the 2018 call for tenders. Such is the wish of Cédric Roussel, deputy (LRM) and president of the study group on the economy of sport in The national assembly.

The subject is of public interest. The so-called Buffet tax, named after Marie-George Buffet, former sports minister and current Member of Parliament (PCF), plans to redistribute 5% of television rights each year for the development of amateur sport.

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