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Mediapro meets first French league rights fee instalment deadline

Spanish agency and production group Mediapro has paid the first fee instalment of its rights agreements for French league football for the 2020-24 cycle.

Mediapro paid €172.3m ($200.5m), inclusive of tax, on Thursday to cover the instalment for top-tier Ligue 1 and second-tier Ligue 2.

The French Professional League (LFP), which is the rights-holder to both competitions, also received the first instalments on Thursday from pay-television broadcasters beIN Sports and Canal Plus, and telco Free. The instalments were €9m, €67.7m and €8.5m, respectively, according to L’Equipe.

The newspaper reported that beIN Sports had also settled the initial €37.5m instalment for its international rights to Ligue 1. It holds these rights in a six-year deal from 2018-19 to 2023-24 worth an average of €80m per season

The LFP received all instalments one day before the today’s (Friday) deadline.

Mediapro’s payment, in particular, will come as a relief to the LFP given persistent concerns in the industry as to whether the agency would meet its financial commitment. It is obliged to pay €780m per season for its Ligue 1 broadcast rights from 2020-21 to 2023-24.

The agency is required to make fee instalments to the LFP every two months under the deal.

Quizzed by the French press at the end of last year about the lack of bank guarantee for Mediapro’s investment in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 rights, Jaume Roures, Mediapro’s chief executive, said: “We have never provided bank guarantees elsewhere, not in Canada, not in Spain and not to Uefa. In France, we were asked for a guarantee from our [shareholding] company. That’s something very serious. Until our [then scheduled] first payment – for Ligue 2 in the middle of July [2020] – I know that I will continue to be asked the question. Up until I pay.”

Mediapro will launch its dedicated football channel Téléfoot on August 17, just four days before the start of the new French Ligue 1 season.

It is aiming to attract 3.5 million subscribers to Téléfoot and has announced a carriage deal with telco Altice-owned SFR, which also sees it share Altice’s Uefa club competition rights for 2020-21.

Mediapro has also reportedly entered into Téléfoot agreements with internet giants Facebook and Netflix.