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Canal+ boycotts French football auction, leaving league in limbo

Pay TV operator Canal+ has declined to place a tender in the re-auction of French Ligue 1 and 2 rights handed back by Spanish producer and broadcaster Mediapro, leaving the country’s professional football league, the LFP in limbo.

The LFP yesterday confirmed the news first reported by sports paper L’Equipe that the country’s leading pay TV player had decided to boycott the auction.

The football body said it had received offers “from three major international players”, namely Amazon, Discovery and DAZN.

However, the LFP said, the reserve price it had set had not been met, rendering the auction process null and void. The league said it would take 48 hours to consider its options for the commercialisation of the rights.

Canal+ has taken legal action over the terms of the new auction after the LFP ruled out a rerun of the process for all rights rather than restricting the process to those rights, covering 80% of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches, held by Mediapro.

Canal+ had sought to return rights sub-licensed to it by beIN Sports, for which it had paid €330 million to broadcast two matches per weekend matchday. The pay TV operator has maintained that the commercial value of the rights has fallen significantly since the last auction.

Canal+’s partner beIN Sports also failed to submit a bid for the rights formerly held by Mediapro.

French ISP Free has meanwhile highlighted the continued free availability of near-live highlights of Ligue 1 via its Ligue 1 Uber Eats app.  The operator said it would extend the free offer until the end of the current season.