Faced with its cash flow problems, professional football wants to lower player salaries

“I accuse money of destroying football. I accuse sports leaders who are too weak to resist the rampant wage inflation. ” Reported in 1983 by the daily The Telegram, these words with Zolian accents come from a leader then barely entered the board of directors of the ancestor of the Professional Football League (LFP): Noël Le Graët.

Since this diatribe from the one who, after leading the league (1991-2000), now chairs the French Football Federation (FFF), salaries have galloped without stopping. With a consequence: faced with the crisis due to Covid-19, which imposes closed doors and reduces ticketing revenues to zero, as well as the disappearance of part of television rights with the withdrawal, in December 2020, of four months after its debut in France, of Mediapro, clubs are now forced to seek to reduce the remuneration of their players. If only on a temporary basis.

Our analysis : After Mediapro fiasco, French football clubs realize they’re sitting on a pile of sand, not gold

Caught up by the insolvency of the Sino-Spanish group, the French championship had to face the facts: television revenues will be far from the billion euros per year promised, in 2018, for the period 2020-2024. However, at the same time, Ligue 1 teams must continue to assume the players’ payroll (remuneration and social contributions), which constitutes the main item of expenditure: 54% on average during the 2018-2019 financial year, i.e. 1.58 billion euros, according to the report of the national management control department (DNCG).

On Tuesday January 12, four club presidents from Ligue 1 and one from Ligue 2 met in Paris with representatives of the players’ union, the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP). For precise measurements or significant progress, it will be necessary to review. At the end of the meeting, the UNFP invited “The players to discuss quickly with their clubs to consider the methods of reducing their remuneration in order to save professional football”.

Skeptical leaders

It is all the more urgent from the point of view of club leaders, as, on Tuesday evening, they understood that they could not count on Canal + to immediately take over from Mediapro: the president of the audiovisual group’s management board, Maxime Saada, announced, in an interview with Figaro, its intention to ask the LFP for a new call for tenders for the distribution of the television rights put back on the market after the defection of Mediapro.

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