Court gives Canal+ hope as it tries to wriggle out of French league TV deal
Paris, July 23, 2021 (AFP) - French football league finances remain in chaos two weeks before the season kicks off after a court on Friday ruled for Canal+ who want to opt out of TV rights they recently won.
Amazon acquired the bulk of the rights at an auction in June, buying eight games a week, while traditional French broadcaster Canal+ was awarded two.
The French league (LFP), which runs the top two divisions, had been scrambling to find replacements for Spanish-Chinese company Mediapro, which abandoned its record deal last season
Canal+ did not like the idea of sharing with newcomer Amazon and failed in an attempted to block that bid in court.
Canal+ was also unhappy that because of a 2018 deal it signed with traditional rival BeIN, a losing bidder this time, it would end up paying 332 million euros a season for two games while Amazon pays 250 million euros for four times as many games.
BeIN bought the smaller package of games in the last auction in 2018 in a contract due to run until 2024.
It still technically owns the rights for the games Canal+ bought and is responsible for the first instalment of 55 million euros due on August 3.
On Friday, a French court ruled that Canal+, which has already failed to pay a first instalment of 500,000 euros to BeIN, did not need to pay until the Qatari channel in turn sued the LFP to force its package of games back onto the market.
Canal+ had already been rebuffed twice by French courts and BeIN was taken aback by Friday's decision.
It said it was "studying" its legal options, lamenting that French football "faces such uncertainty a few weeks before the season."
Following the failure of Mediapro, Canal+ lawyers told a hearing on Tuesday that the French company had repeatedly asked BeIN to sue the LFP.
Sources close to Canal+ have suggested there is a conflict of interest because BeIN chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi is also president of Paris Saint-Germain and sits on the LFP board.
"It may be necessary one day to ask why BeIN, whose boss is also a member of the LFP's board of directors, has never acceded to the Canal+ requests," a source close to the case told AFP.