LFP’s Quillot: Al-Khelaïfi not part of group discussing beIN international rights payment

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PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi is not part of the group of French Ligue 1 bosses meeting with pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports to discuss a delayed fee instalment for the international rights to the now-cancelled competition.

French Football League (LFP) chief executive, Didier Quillot, told L’Equipe: “He wished not to be part of the delegation. He is the president of beIN Media Group.”

Quillot said the delegation of Ligue 1 presidents comprises Jean-Pierre Rivère (Nice), Olivier Sadran and Jacques-Henri Eyraud (Olympique Marseille).

Quillot said: “It is up to this delegation to now deal with the subject of the beIN payment for international rights due on April 30.”

Qatar-headquartered beIN holds the Ligue 1 international rights in six-year deal from 2018-19 to 2023-24 worth an average of €80m ($85.3m) per season. The deal was agreed in 2014.

The fee instalment that was due at the end of last month was for €35m, according to L’Equipe. BeIN also missed a €42m fee instalment for its domestic French league rights before reaching a €10.6m settlement for matches already played.

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

BeIN has also yet to inform the LFP as to whether it will follow co-incumbent pay-television broadcaster Canal Plus’s lead and terminate its domestic French league contracts as a result of the cancellation of the 2019-20 season.

Quillot stated: “I don’t know what the intentions of beIN are. And I do not wish to detail our contractual relations with our broadcasters.”

Ongoing tensions

Negotiations over beIN’s missed international rights payment come 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, particularly given the 2020-21 to 2023-24 domestic rights are worth a total of nearly €1.2bn per season in deals with Spanish agency and production house Mediapro, beIN and Free Mobile.

Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of Olympique Lyonnais, has reportedly even raised the prospect of the LFP suing beIN over the issue.

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.