Mediapro’s Téléfoot shutdown plunges French football into uncertainty

Mediapro’s monumental offer was greeted with drums and trumpets in 2018: the decision of the Professional Football League (LFP) to terminate the contract with its main broadcaster, this Friday, December 11, opens an era of economic uncertainty for French football.

The failure of the Sino-Spanish group has become increasingly evident since its decision not to honor its deadline in October, then in December, citing the health crisis. The unpaid amount now stands at around 325 million euros in all.

“The blow is monumental”

A source with access to the file told AFP that the League, meeting as a board of directors, had decided to terminate the contract binding it with its major broadcaster, with a view to recovering its TV rights on December 21. PSG: in the final and still trendy

Contacted, Mediapro did not wish to comment, but the Téléfoot channel, created ad hoc by the Catalan group this summer, told AFP that it will continue to broadcast Ligue 1 “At least until December 23”, pending future broadcasters.

Thus, the Saint-Etienne-Angers match this Friday evening, December 11 (9 p.m.), like the PSG-Lyon shock Sunday December 13 (9 p.m.), will be broadcast as planned on this channel.

On Friday morning December 11, Téléfoot employees were “Reunited” by videoconference, a member of the editorial staff told AFP on condition of anonymity. The Managing Director of Mediapro, Julien Bergeaud, “Told us, very moved and even on the verge of tears that it was over”. “The blow is monumental”, adds this journalist.

This decision raises many questions. Who will be the future broadcaster of the French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 championships? If the historic partner of French football, Canal +, were to return to the game, under what financial conditions? What consequences for the economic balance of professional clubs, already weakened by the health crisis, and which risk having to draw an end to several hundred million euros per year?

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“Biggest fiasco in history”

Finally, what future for the employees and in particular the editorial staff of Téléfoot made up of about fifty journalists? Will subscribers be able to get reimbursed?

It will then be a question of knowing precisely the conditions of the release of Mediapro: according to a leader of a Ligue 1 club, the LFP has succeeded in obtaining compensation of around 100 million euros from the broadcaster, including some 30 million euros are deferred to 2021.

But these modalities have yet to be validated in the coming days by the Nanterre Commercial Court which had initiated a conciliation procedure on October 19. Other broadcasters will then be able to transmit offers, the same source continues.

“We will talk about it in thirty years as the biggest fiasco in the history of television, the biggest fiasco in the history of the PAF [paysage audiovisuel français, NDLR] and French football ”, sums up the Téléfoot journalist contacted by AFP.American footballers have conquered the football planet (and it was not won)

Wasn’t this fiasco predictable? When the contract of more than 800 million euros per year (out of a record total of 1.153 billion for the L1) was signed by Mediapro, a newcomer in France, many experts had expressed doubts about its viability. Doubts heightened when Mediapro stopped paying.

All eyes on Canal +

“This confirms that it was not a request for negotiation [de la part de Mediapro] but well of a default of payment and it is amply confirmed “, analysis Pierre Maes, consultant and author of the book “Le business des Droits TV”.

In October, the Catalan boss of Mediapro, Jaume Roures, had indicated that Téléfoot had 600,000 subscribers, far from the objective of the 3.5 million necessary in the long term to make the project profitable.

Recently, Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Minister of Education, who oversees Sports, did not hide the criticisms at the highest point of the State: “You cannot in business life take risks of this type and then call the State like a firefighter with public money. “

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All eyes will now turn to Canal +, historic broadcaster of the French championship which remains discreet on the file and has already indicated via his boss, Maxime Saada, that he would not reinvest ” at a loss “ in football.

This gives rise to fears of a discount of several hundred million euros per year. A sharp drop that may be difficult to cash for many clubs already weakened by the health crisis and empty stadiums. Asked by AFP, Canal + did not follow up.

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