Canal+ forced to continue broadcasting Ligue 1 after losing beIN case

French pay TV broadcaster Canal+ will continue to have to air Ligue 1 football under the terms of a sub-licensing deal with beIN Sports after losing a court case against its partner.

Under a ruling of the Versailles court of appeal last Thursday, Canal+ will be forced to honour its contract with beIN, which agreed to pay €332 million a year to broadcast two matches per match-day and subsequently sub-licensed its right to the Vivendi-owned broadcaster under the same terms.

That deal was struck before the French football league, the LFP, re-auctioned the main body or rights previously granted to Spanish broadcaster Mediapro – and then returned when Mediapro decided to withdraw. The re-auction was won by Amazon, which secured 80% of Ligue 1 matches for €250 million a year, a sum well below that paid by Canal+ for its 20% of matches.

Before the latest court case, Canal+ and beIN had marched step-in-step in a series of legal battles with the LFP. However, previous court rulings had upheld the right of the LFP to re-auction only the part of Ligue 1 matches that had been returned to it by Mediapro.

In a sign of continuing bad blood between Canal+ and the LFP, the former on Saturday publicly slammed a decision by the league to cancel a match between AS Saint-Étienne and Olympique Marseile at the last minute and reschedule it for Sunday, citing difficulties of accessing the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium at which the match had been due to take place.

The match had been scheduled for broadcast on the Canal+ Décalé channel. The broadcaster said the change forced it to provide stripped down coverage of the rescheduled match, and regretted that a decision “imposed by the LFP” would “deprive its subscribers of the production standards that it had consistently delivered for each major fixture” of the competition.

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