Canal Plus and beIN reach payment accord over Ligue 1 and 2 matches already played

Canal Plus and beIN Sports, the pay-television broadcasters, have reached an agreement with France’s Professional Football League (LFP) over the payment for rights to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches already played.

The two broadcasters both issued statements this afternoon saying that they had reached agreements with the league.

The LFP was dealt successive blows in March as first Canal Plus and then beIN informed the league that rights payments would be suspended until matches from the top two divisions resumed after the shutdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Canal Plus and beIN had both warned the LFP that they would not be making their latest rights fee instalments due on April 5. These amounted to €110m and €42m, respectively.

beIN was faced with a €15m rights fee payment for matches already played and is thought to have agreed to pay a reduced sum of around €10m. The broadcaster is also thought to be willing to agree a payment schedule for rights fees covering the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign if there is clarity over the structure and timing of the rest of the season.

Canal Plus is to pay around €37m as part of its settlement, reports L’Equipe.

Maxime Saada, the Canal Plus president, told the French newspaper: “It’s not a pro-rata sum in proportion to the matches played, but a lump sum.

“We will continue to discuss the outcome with the delegation and the League, depending on the conditions of the resumption and the impact for us.”

Canal Plus and beIN pay a combined €748.5m on average per season for rights to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 from 2016-17 to 2019-20.

The agreement comes after negotiations had been led on behalf of the league by a committee made up of four club presidents, including Paris Saint-Germain’s Nasser al-Khelaïfi, who is also the beIN Media Group chairman. Earlier this week, French sports minister Roxana Mărăcineanu proposed that the country’s mediator for economic and financial affairs attempted to resolve the dispute.

A statement from beIN read: “The agreement acknowledges the unprecedented situation that is confronting the clubs, the LFP and French football at this time, coupled with the extremely challenging circumstances that beIN itself faces.

“The Professional Football League and beIN Sports would like to thank the committee for their positive intervention and will continue to work closely with the representative group around the planning for the resumption of the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 Championships with the ambition of finding a spectacle that meets expectations, while preserving the health of all.”

Canal Plus said that discussions would continue over the potential resumption of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 “the ambition of finding a spectacle that lives up to expectations, while preserving the health of all”.

Eyebrows were raised when al-Khelaïfi was named as part of the team to negotiate with Canal Plus given the close relationship between the two broadcasters. The other club representatives are Jacques-Henri Eyraud (Marseille), Olivier Sadran (Toulouse) and Jean-Pierre Rivère (Nice).

Canal Plus has sublicensed rights to two Ligue 1 matches per matchday from beIN for the 2020-21 to 2023-24 cycle as part of a wide-ranging distribution and sublicensing agreement.