French football avoided financial “catastrophe” - Thiriez
29 Jun 2012
French Football League (LFP) president Frédéric Thiriez has admitted that the revenue generated by the next set of Ligue 1 domestic rights is “not satisfactory” but maintained the League has averted a potential “catastrophe”.
The LFP’s latest rights auction for the four seasons from 2012-13 to 2015-16 brought in Eur606 million per year compared to the Eur668 million for the cycle which ended last season. The position of French football has been bolstered by the emergence of Al-Jazeera as the dominant force in the domestic market. The LFP in January announced that the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster had acquired rights for an additional six live Ligue 1 games per round on pay-per-view, as well as a weekly football magazine programme, for the forthcoming window. Al-Jazeera had already secured the rights to two games per round, with Canal Plus previously showing the remainder of the package. The new agreement sees the French pay-television channel retain the rights to two matches per week.
“We feared the worst about the outcome of the negotiations,” Thiriez said at a press conference. “The result is not satisfactory, but a catastrophe was avoided… (despite) the almost complete withdrawal of (telecommunications company) Orange and the partial withdrawal of Canal Plus.”
Regarding the reduction in the value of Ligue 1’s rights, Thiriez said: “The decline was partially offset by an increase in international rights fees, from Eur17 million (per year) to Eur31.5 million and the rights covering Ligue 2 increasing from Eur13 million to Eur18 million per year. So the total decline in income (covering domestic and international rights for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2) was Eur40 million per year – about 6%.” Thiriez believes Al-Jazeera’s considerable investment in French sport should ensure they participate in the next Ligue 1 tender for the 2016-2020 window. He added: “Al-Jazeera has a considerable economic bet on France. They need at least five years to succeed.” Montpellier was the surprise winner of the 2011-12 Ligue 1 title, holding off the challenge of big-spending Paris Saint-Germain.