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Ligue 1 clubs maintain call for action over beIN international rights deal

Neymar Jr of PSG ahead of French Trophy of Champions match in Shenzhen on August 2, 2019 (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Clubs from French football’s Ligue 1 have continued to push for the renegotiation of an international rights agreement with pay-TV broadcaster beIN Media Group, discussing the issue in detail at a meeting this week.

The club presidents remain unhappy with the terms of the renewed agreement signed by the French Football League (LFP) and beIN in 2014. The deal is worth an average of €80m ($88.9m) per season and runs from 2018-19 to 2023-24.

At a meeting of the clubs body on Monday, L’Équipe reports that the majority of club presidents once again expressed their desire for “much better” terms to be negotiated or for the LFP to exit the agreement so that it can sell the international broadcast rights itself.

It is reported that Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of the Ligue 1 clubs body, told his counterparts that the negotiations with beIN to increase the value of the contract had not advanced, and that even judicial proceedings – which would need to be sanctioned by the league’s board – should be considered.

Talks between the LFP and beIN first began over a year ago and stories about the clubs’ dissatisfaction emerged in the French press at the Sportel trade fair last year.

The international rights agreement is said to be worth €75m this season and the club presidents continue to look on with envy at not only the Premier League’s vastly superior international rights revenue, but also that of LaLiga, Serie A and the Bundesliga.

During the meetings on Monday, it is reported that Victoriano Melero, secretary general of Paris Saint-Germain, was at one point asked to leave the room. PSG is owned by Qatar Sports Investments and the club’s president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is also chairman of beIN Media Group.

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.

In a move to increase the international visibility of French football (and provide increased leverage in rights negotiations), the LFP is pressing ahead with the launch of its own OTT platform, which is set to be called my Ligue 1.

Didier Quillot, the LFP chief executive, told L’Équipe in February: “We need to improve the international visibility of Ligue 1 in certain territories. This OTT app will especially create a bit of competition where the league is not well distributed or at all, in countries like Poland and Belgium.”