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Canal+ agrees deal to broadcast Ligue 1 for current season

Un cameraman filme au Stade Bonal à Sochaux, le 01 mars 2008 lors du match de la ligue 1 de football entre Sochaux et Rennes. Le directeur des sports de France Télévisions, Daniel Bilalian, s’est insurgé le 29 février contre l’engagement de Canal+ de diffuser “en clair” “une partie du feuilleton” des rencontres de la Ligue, dont la chaîne cryptée a acquis la quasi-totalité des droits. AFP PHOTO / JEFF PACHOUD (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

Pay TV operator Canal+ has struck a deal with the French professional football body, the LFP – but only covering the current season.

Canal+ will take exclusive rights to live coverage of all Ligue 1 and eight out of 10 Ligue 2 matches, along with magazine programme rights. BeIN Sports holds the rights to the remaining two Ligue 2 matches.

The pay TV operator and the LFP expressed satisfaction that they had been able to strike a global agreement following the failure of the league’s attempt to re-auction rights returned to it by Mediapro for the period until 2024 earlier this week.

Canal+ boycotted that auction, arguing that the LFP should have auctioned all rights, including those Canal+ had previously sublicensed from beIN Sports for €330 million – a sum it now believes to be too much in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Mediapro debacle.

According to financial daily Les Echos, Canal+ is paying several tens of millions of euros for the rights to the remainder of the season, on top of the €330 million already contracted, but now disputed.

The deal will give some respite to French football, which finds itself beset by a major financial crisis in the wake of the withdrawal of Mediapro, while falling far short of the sums it expected a year ago.

The agreement also gives time for the LFP to rethink its plan to auction rights for the next few seasons, perhaps enabling it to structure packages that could appeal to outside bidders such as the trio of international players that submitted tenders to the abandoned auction this week – Amazon, DAZN and Discovery.