LFP and beIN reach deal over Ligue 1 international rights payment

The French Football League (LFP) and international pay-television broadcaster beIN Media Group have today (Friday) settled the thorny issue of outstanding international broadcast rights fee payments.

The LFP announced late this afternoon that its board finalised an agreement with beIN that “definitively settles the rights owed” for the 2019-20 season.

The compromise deal means that beIN will pay €16.5m ($18.3m) instead of the €35m owed, reports L’Equipe.

Qatar-headquartered beIN holds the Ligue 1 international rights in six-year deal from 2018-19 to 2023-24 worth an average of €80m per season. The deal was agreed in 2014.

The fee instalment of €35m due at the end of April was not paid by beIN amid the suspension of the French top flight.

The French football season was terminated after the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that the current seasons of professional sports, including football, would not be able to resume because of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An accord with beIN on the international rights follows on from agreements with beIN and fellow pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus over domestic rights fee payments. BeIN also missed a €42m fee instalment for its domestic rights before reaching a €10.6m settlement for matches already played.

The league said that it “welcomes the constructive dialogue with the official broadcasters of Ligue 1 Conforama and Domino’s Ligue 2 which have led to these agreements”. However, it noted that the agreements “must not overshadow the unprecedented economic crisis facing French football”.

Negotiations over beIN’s missed international rights payment came against a backdrop of ongoing controversy between the clubs and the LFP, on the one hand, and beIN, on the other, over rights. The clubs and the LFP have been trying to renegotiate the contract as they say it undervalues the rights.

Talks between the LFP and beIN first began in 2018 and stories about the clubs’ dissatisfaction first emerged in the French press at the 2018 Sportel trade fair in Monaco.

The pay-TV broadcaster first acquired the Ligue 1 international rights in 2012-13, replacing previous rights distributor Canal Plus Events. BeIN then appointed the MP & Silva agency to sell the rights in various international markets.

At the time of announcing the extension in 2014, the LFP said that it would share revenues with beIN on a 50-50 basis once the minimum guarantee sum had been met. The deal was praised at the time in the French media given it represented a 146-per-cent increase on the value of the previous agreement.