New television deal helps French football narrowly avoid financial 'catastrophe'

The body that oversees League football has taken a significant hit in monetary terms after successfully renegotiating their broadcast rights package for the next four years
The French Football League (LFP) have avoided financial catastrophe after selling the latest round of Ligue 1 TV rights to commercial broadcasters, albeit for a reduced figure.

The previous package brought in €668 million per year, but the new deal is worth just €606m per year, a drop of €62m. And LFP president Frederic Thiriez has voiced his concern over the current deal, which includes the 2012-13 seasons and three further campaigns.

"We feared the worst about the outcome of the negotiations," Thiriez told reporters.

"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."

The deal was saved by the emergence of broadcaster Al-Jazeera. A major player in the French game, the Qatar-based company acquired rights for an additional six live Ligue 1 games per round on a pay-per-view basis. As part of the new deal, Canal Plus retain the rights to just two matches per week.

Thiriez believes that the reduction in value of the league's rights may only be a short-term problem, though, with Al-Jazeera set to play a bigger role in the next round of negotiations for the 2016-2020 window.

"The decline was partially offset by an increase in international rights fees, from €17m [per year] to €31.5m, and the rights covering Ligue 2 increasing from €13m to €18m per year.

"So the total decline in income [over domestic and international rights for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2] was €40m per year – about 6 per cent.

"Al-Jazeera has a considerable economic bet on France. They need at least five years to succeed."