The Spanish group Mediapro reached an agreement with the French Professional Football League (LFP) to break the French football broadcasting contract, after months of disagreements about it, sources close to the negotiation confirmed.
Mediapro’s departure will allow French clubs to seek a new channel for the retransmission, after the Spanish company demanded a renegotiation of the contract on the grounds of the drop in income caused by the coronavirus crisis.
To pressure the LFP, the group chaired by Jaume Roures had not paid the first two terms of the contract: 172.3 million on October 5, and 152.5 million on December 5, which placed the clubs in a difficult situation.
The French courts, which then ordered mediation to open, must now validate the terms of the breach of the contract. Mediapro, for its part, avoided commenting on this information which, it said, is still pending validation by the courts.
The news puts an end to Mediapro’s adventure in France, where it signed a contract of more than 800 million euros per year for 80% of the broadcasting rights in the league for three years, a historic figure that placed French football among the best-valued on the continent, only surpassed by English.
Despite the doubts that this figure generated, given that the interest of French football is not as great as that of other championships, Mediapro always provided guarantees of its payment.
Until after the start of the competition he announced that he was asking for a renegotiation of the contract for this season due to the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The clubs have invested less, argued Mediapro, so the interest is lower, to which is added that bars and restaurants remain closed, which blocks an important source of income for the company.
The LFP was not willing to negotiate, already hit significantly by the crisis, which deprived them of part of a good part of the current income of last season, which ended abruptly two months in advance by the covid-19.
To this is added that they did not have the money from tickets and the sale of derivative products, money that they aspired to compensate with the most important television contract in its history.
The situation became entrenched to the point that distrust grew within French football. When the contract is validated, the LFP may sign a new one with another television network.
Canal +, which historically has always been present in French football and which had been left out with the arrival of Mediapro, has timidly shown its interest.
According to various media, the chain is willing to offer around 600 million annually, well below the current contract, but clubs, many of which are threatened with bankruptcy, may not have a choice.
The LFP contracted a bank loan after Mediapro’s first default in order to temporarily ensure the liquidity of the equipment.
The newspaper “L’Équipe” reports in its edition this Friday that Canal + can now take advantage of the opportunity to further reduce this offer, since the LFP finds itself at a dead end.
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