French football league launches rights tender process

France’s professional football league (LFP) has launched the tender process for TV rights to Ligue 1 matches for the three seasons from 2012-16, with a target of equalling or surpassing the €668 million obtained last time round.

The LFP has called for offers for nine packages of games and has, for the first time, set a reserve price on the top six packages – €110 million for each of the first two, €100 million for packages three and four, and €90 million for packages five and six, giving a total of €600 million. LFP president Frédéric Thiriez believes that the remaining packages – for mobile and tablet rights – will make up the difference.

If bids fail to meet the reserve price, the LFP has the option to air the games on its own channel, CFoot, which is set to launch in June. Thiriez admitted on Friday that this “would not be the best solution” but offered the best available alternative to challenge Canal Plus’s exclusive grip on the rights in the wake of the withdrawal of Orange from bidding for them.

Applicants have until June 20 to make their bids. Canal Plus must decide whether to meet the LFP’s price or gamble on the League being ultimately unwilling to shoulder the risk of producing its own coverage of matches.