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Canal+ taking legal action over football auction move

French pay TV operator Canal+ is taking legal action against the country’s professional football body, the LFP, over its decision to launch a new bidding process for rights to Ligue 1, according to local reports.

According to Le Figaro, the pay TV operator has taken issue with the LFP’s decision only to auction those rights returned by Spanish broadcaster and producer Mediapro following its failure to maintain payments for top-tier football.

Canal+ had previously said it would return the rights sub-licensed to it by BeIN Media for re-auction as part of new process encompassing all available rights, which it claimed was in line with legal requirements.

Canal+ CEO Maxime Saada believes the operator overpaid for the rights it currently holds and that the pay TV operator would in a position to bid less as part of an overall auction in the wake of the Mediapro debacle. Canal+ paid €330 million for the rights to BeIN Sports to cover the latter’s deal with the LFP for the period from 2020-24.

Saada used the pages of Le Figaro to call for a new global process, arguing that there was “only one way to obtain the market value of Ligue 1 in an objective and transparent way – by a call for bids”.

Sports paper L’Équipe this week reported that a number of other broadcasters had been approached by new LFP president Vincent Labrune as possible contenders for the rights previously held by Mediapro, including TF1, RMC Sport, M6 and ISP Free. Other potential bidders could include Amazon.

Canal+ is likely to be concerned that a rival bidder could secure the rights for less than it paid for BeIN Sports’ matches.