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BeIN Sports hints at legal action over Canal Plus’s Top 14 deal

BeIN Sports has warned that it could take legal action over the sudden award of Top 14 media rights to rival pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus by France’s Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), the body that operates the rugby union club competition.

Canal Plus was awarded rights over five years, from 2014-15 to 2018-19, just days after the LNR said that it had postponed a rights tender after becoming the subject of legal action by the same broadcaster.

BeIN Sports said that it “firmly contests the conditions for granting the exclusive LNR rights for the top Top 14 to Canal Plus” and added that it “regrets the lack of compliance with a transparent procedure to ensure fair competition.”

The broadcaster added that it reserves “the right to bring any action before the authorities for questioning why this award was made without going to the end of the call for applications which had been launched by the LNR in early December.”

In December, the LNR activated a cancellation clause in its five-year agreement with Canal Plus, from 2011-12 to 2015-16, in order to seek a more lucrative rights deal.

Last Friday, the LNR said that Canal Plus had launched “totally unfounded” legal action against the body that had disrupted the “smooth running of the tender” for the rights to the Top 14 and the second-tier ProD2 divisions to run for four seasons, from 2014-15 to 2017-18. The bids were due to be submitted the following Monday (January 13).

On Tuesday, the LNR announced a five-year deal with Canal Plus worth an average of €71m ($97m) per year – more than double the value of the previous deal.