It was March 26. In a more than gloomy sporting context, the French Football Federation was preparing to announce good news, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the recognition of women’s football, which occurred on March 29, 1970. The FFF had to communicate, soberly taking into account of the context, on the historical surpassing of the bar of 200,000 licensees.
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Nice story but the news was right about the good news. First, the announcement of the death of former Blues coach Michel Hidalgo. Then, a little later, information that was first diffused (published by the daily The team) then confirmed, stopped the wind of solidarity blowing for several days on the world of professional football, rich in initiatives of all kinds, in particular on the part of the most fortunate players.
Another 300 million to pay
On Saturday, March 28, we learned that Canal +, the main broadcaster, with BeIN Sports, of professional football, refused to pay the April deadline for the broadcasting rights that keep French football alive. The chain even brandished the threat for the June deadline, if the resumption of the championship was done in a truncated way from its point of view. For example in case, to save time in the march of the championship, all the matches would be played on the same day at the same time. Because Canal + and BeIN need sprinkled matches throughout the weekends to recoup their investments from their subscribers and advertisers.
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There are nearly 300 million to be paid by the end of the season on the annual amount of 759 million owed by Canal + (548 for Ligue 1 and 10 for Ligue 2) and BeIN Sports (189 for L1 and 12 for Ligue 2) to settle payments. The next payment from Canal + was scheduled for April 5, but the encrypted channel does not want to pay the 110 million euros it had to pay on that date.
Maxime Saada, the group’s boss, said so in a letter to the Professional Football League. “ It is not conceivable that we will pay the installments to come, even though due to the suspension of the Ligue 1 championship, no match can be played and, consequently, broadcast on our antennas “, he wrote in this letter made public by “The Team”. For the moment, BeIN Sports owned by Qatari investment funds like Paris SG has not communicated on the subject.
According to the report released on March 11, 2020 by the National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG), an organization responsible for validating the accounts of professional clubs, television rights represented 36% of club revenues last season. With ticketing (10%) and sponsorship (16%) revenue at a standstill, this dead loss comes at a time when the accounts suffer from another more insidious evil: the players, no longer playing, can no longer do proof of their value on the transfer market.
The transfer market needs images
The compensation received by the selling or training club of a player weighs more and more heavily in the budgets of the clubs: 25% on average, much more in some very advanced clubs on the subject like Monaco or Toulouse. However, it is the lesser-known players who make the biggest profits and recruiters all over the world need to make their decision to see them on … video.
While the clubs have put their administrative staff and players on a partial unemployment basis, they no longer have room to slow the crazy curve of financial loss. The beautiful picture presented by the DNCG in March (all Ligue 1 clubs in balance except Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux) is turning black.
A negotiation is in progress
The hypothesis of a refusal of payment from Canal + would first affect the wealthiest since this April deadline concerned payment to the clubs with the most notoriety (concept calculated based on past rankings and the number of passages to the ‘antenna). That of June concerns the whole of professional football in full turmoil, but which remains discreet on the subject. No club president spoke after the release of Canal +. Proof that negotiations are underway, with the possibility of at least a partial payment of this April deadline, which partly covers the period preceding confinement where the matches could have been played almost normally.
The economic match is probably not over. No more than the battle between the parties: broadcasters, professional league and clubs. The Canal + group will return next season in the game of transmitting the Champions League matches, which it had been deprived of for three years. And it is difficult to see him appear from autumn 2020 on European grounds after having appeared as the gravedigger of certain French clubs. At least the most fragile, over which the specter of bankruptcy already hangs.