A Parisian commercial court has come to a decision regarding the second legal dispute between pay-TV network Canal+ and the French Professional Football League (LFP), ruling in favour of the latter.
The challenge by the network, owned by Vivendi, was dismissed by the court, which also ordered the firm to pay €50,000 to cover legal costs. In a short statement, Canal+ made it clear that it would initiate an appeal ‘as soon as possible’.
Canal+, alongside broadcasting partner beIN Media, initially launched its legal challenge in February, following the LFP’s decision to exclude its contract from the tendering process for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 media rights.
The firm’s €330 million contract with beIN saw it sublicense rights to France’s top-flight football tournament from the latter. Maxime Saada, the President of Canal+, had previously announced his intention to withdraw the contract, calling for a new bidding contest and for a revelation of the structure of French football broadcasting.
Should Canal+’s appeal be unsuccessful, French football should return to a sense of legal and financial stability for the remainder of the 2020/21 season, having been caught in the midst of a broadcasting crisis for much of the year.
Despite the legal challenge, Canal+ was able to secure a broadcasting arrangement until the conclusion of the ongoing season, acquiring coverage of eight Ligue 1 matches per week in addition to the two fixtures it already held as part of the agreement with beIN.
Additionally, the network secured the media rights to eight Ligue 2 games per match week, which were subsequently sold to beIN.
Although the network asserts that it will appeal – and also maintains a complaint to the French national competition watchdog as well as another legal challenge regarding match postponements due to the Gilet Jaunes protests – the LFP is likely hopeful that it will benefit monetarily from both its contract with Canal+ as well as the closure of the court case.
The collapse of a €780 million media rights contract with Barcelona-based agency Mediapro threw the sport into financial turmoil, with losses estimated to exceed €1.3 billion by the end of the season, whilst the individual clubs of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are predicted to lose around €60 million each.
Additional predictions estimate the LFP’s revenue for 2020/21 to total between €650 and €670 million, far below the €1.14 billion expected at the start of the season. The situation prompted the governing body to call for an emergency meeting with the French government to discuss financial assistance.