French professional football league LFP has decided to terminate Mediapro’s €830 million annual contract after two months of dispute about the 2020-2024 Ligue 1 and 2 main TV rights. The Téléfoot pay-TV channel is set to stop by the end of January, eight months after being launched.
“Mediapro Sport France and La Ligue de football professionel have set up together the terms of an agreement which would allow to give back Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 TV rights to LFP on a very short term,” declared the LFP. This decision still has to receive authorisation from the Nanterre Court of Commerce before coming into force. The TV rights must be given back to LFP, now presided by Vincent Labrune, by December 21rst.
The dispute arose when the Chinese-Spanish broadcaster refused to pay the October and December monthly dues that amounted to almost €350 million. Mediapro CEO, Jaime Roures then asked the overall fee to be reduced, arguing the Covid-19 crisis devalued the “product”.
Sources said Mediapro wasn’t able to honour its payments, having fewer than 600,000 subscribers to its new €25.90 per month Téléfoot pay-TV channel, with the ultimate target being 3.5 million.
Following the end of the Mediapro involvement, the LFP could turn back to Canal+, the historical partner of Ligue 1 and French championship. Two years ago, CEO Maxime Saada refused to overpay to get the rights and said there was no economic model at such a price. The pay TV group has remained discreet over the last few days but has already suggested it won’t make a loss on any new investment.
Even if the LFP launched a new call for bids to try finding one or two partners, there are risks for it and the French clubs to lose several million a year compared to the record €1.2 billion contract it signed in 2018 after the first call for bids. In December 2019, beIN Sports, the other broadcaster of the 2020-2024 Ligue 1 TV rights (76 matches), agreed with Canal+ to sublicense matches for €330 million.
Former LPF president, Didier Quillot has confirmed he will return his €500,000 bonus.