This is one more victory for the Professional Football League (LFP) against the Canal + group. Friday, June 11, the Competition Authority announced that it had rejected the complaint filed by the historic broadcaster of Ligue 1.
“At the end of its examination, the Authority rejected the referral to the merits of [Canal+] and the associated request for provisional measures, considering that they were not accompanied by sufficiently convincing elements ”, said the gendarme of the competition in a press release.
An overvalued lot, according to Canal +
The Vivendi group channel seized the Competition Authority on January 29, accusing the LFP of having committed an abuse of a dominant position by releasing on the market only the TV rights abandoned by the Sino-Spanish group Mediapro to the following its failure, contrary to the hypothesis of a global call for tenders, which Canal + wanted, supported by its partner BeIN Sports.
The encrypted channel, which paid 332 million euros annually until 2024 for the two matches of each day planned in this “lot 3”, estimated its value now overvalued and called for a global call for tenders. The LFP finally won its case, both before the commercial court, in March, even if Canal + announced that it wanted to appeal, and before the Competition Authority on Friday.
According to this decision, the LFP was within its rights by launching its partial call for tenders in early February, covering 80% of L1 and L2 and ultimately unsuccessful, then opting since then for direct negotiations with broadcasters. interested. The rejection of the appeal of Canal + therefore clears the legal horizon of French football by making possible an agreement by mutual agreement.
Fall in television rights
According to sources close to the negotiations, this decision could accelerate an agreement with Canal + and BeIN Sports, hoped for in the coming hours in the face of the emergency in which the L1 finds itself: the clubs are currently without a broadcaster within two months. the resumption of the 2021-2022 season, at the beginning of August, and must present a coherent budget on June 14 to the national management control department, an independent commission responsible for monitoring the accounts of professional football clubs in France.
In recent hours, several players in the case have raised the hypothesis of a return to the discussions of Amazon, the American distribution giant, which has been invited in recent years to the sports rights market via its Prime Video platform. . A meeting of the board of directors of the LFP was scheduled for Friday at noon, told Agence France-Presse on Friday morning a source close to the deliberations.
Domestic television rights, initially expected at 1.217 billion euros per year for L1 and L2, fell, for the 2020-2021 season, to around 683 million euros after the failure of Mediapro and the closure of its ephemeral Téléfoot channel. And Maxime Saada, boss of Canal +, said he expected negotiations around a global annual figure “Close to previous cycles”, namely an average of 650 million euros per year.
“I think that the contract signed with Mediapro was a mistake, because the amounts were decorrelated from a reality”, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday in an interview on BFM-TV and RMC. “I wish there could be an exit from the top of this topic, that [les clubs] can find viable figures for everyone ”, he argued, symbol of the recurring interest of political power, in recent decades, for this thorny issue.