As the season got underway, so did the necessary payments to the LFP and by August a first rights instalment of €172 million was received by the governing body, as another was subsequently due two months later.
Fast forward to October and the LFP’s bank account is now €172 million lighter than it should be, as Mediapro have withheld payment and with the Téléfoot service not meeting initial subscribing targets, the reception for French televised football is rather scrambled.
With the initial subscriber target set at 3.5million, Mediapro would have been confident of recouping enough monthly payments to make such a hefty deal worthwhile, that is until the latest customer figures have been announced.
At just 600,000 subscribers to date, the take up has been slower than first hoped and with the obvious financial pressures that are being applied to supporters across the country, this is being viewed as one cost to many.
In addition to this, the restrictions regarding pubs and restaurants means locations where football would usually be shown are currently not operative and if they are not open for business, they are not putting a Téléfoot subscription at the top of their shopping list.
Which means a cash flow problem for Mediapro and this is passed on to the LFP, as they are still looking to collect their October payment and the longer this row wrangles on, the more people will question the overall value of such a deal.
Because a figure such as €800 million a year sounds fantastic in theory, but if the relevant parties do not find the relevant monies, it is a deal that could quickly end up being more a case of 100% of nothing.
Admittedly Mediapro are not looking to cut their losses so early into the new four-year cycle, but they are angling for a rebate and this is where the current bone of contention has presented itself to the LFP.
In a recent interview, CEO Jaume Roures had this to say on the matter:
“This has led to us seeing with the LFP how we can adapt to the situation, without calling into question the commitment we made in April 2018. The contract is here to stay, that’s what we want. The only thing we ask is that we adapt things for this season.”
Of course, nobody at even the start of this year would have envisaged what has played out globally in the past seven months and back in 2018 when the deal was announced, this was a sign that French football was set for a cash bonanza.
A bonanza that would have been gratefully received by those clubs that operate within the top two divisions of French football and with broadcast rights collectively making up 36% of their accounts, there is also a heavy reliance on this kind of financial inducement.
Which means the chain of command needs to be re-established, if there’s no customers and no money in Mediapro’s coffers, there is nothing to funnel through to those who complete in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
This ultimately suggests that some form of compromise will have to be found for the good of the game and if Mediapro can earn some concessions, it will be an undoubted victory for them but not for the French football landscape as a whole.
Written by Dan Tracey