Weaned from ticketing by the reconfinement and deprived of the television revenues of the broadcaster Mediapro, French football is impatient and is pessimistic about the current conciliation with the Sino-Spanish group, while Canal +, in ambush, assures that it is not ready to reinvest excessively.
The 9th day of Ligue 1 will be able to be held almost normally on the lawns this weekend, despite the closed session imposed by the reconfinement.
But the clubs will experience it once again with bitterness, aware of delivering a show to the Téléfoot channel without financial compensation, a situation that has lasted since Mediapro's suspension of TV rights payments in early October.
"Each day of the championship that passes is a new handicap in our budget," laments to AFP Jean-Pierre Caillot, the president of Reims and the college bringing together leaders of Ligue 1.
Problem: the L1 and L2 clubs have no immediate lever to operate, the fault of an ongoing conciliation procedure with the commercial court of Nanterre, initiated by Mediapro with a view to renegotiating the amount of the TV rights contract for the current season with the Professional Football League (LFP).
If the broadcaster said he was "confident" on the opportunity for a positive outcome in this conflict with ultra-confidential advances, the LFP did not echo this optimism, and the clubs even less.
- "Hanging on a wire" -
They have also signed a confidentiality clause preventing them from discussing the evolution of the situation.
But impatience wins them, as the next TV rights deal approaches, at the beginning of December, a deadline considered by Mediapro as being de facto suspended.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said he was "more than worried" in an interview with AFP, showing himself to be pessimistic about the future of French football, "hanging on a thread".
Jean-Pierre Caillot is on the same wavelength: "The administrator must very quickly take decisions and not wait," said the manager, urging the conciliator appointed by the Nanterre commercial court to accelerate this process.
The procedure, reinforced by the ordinances of May 20, which favor debtors in difficulty to the detriment of creditors, can last up to five months even if several media argue that the conciliator Marc Sénéchal planned to complete the process in early December.
"A conciliation of five or six months is far too long! Our broadcaster must not take advantage of it", protested Caillot.
A source familiar with the matter confirms: "We are part of a company that has failed in strategy. Mediapro has failed to resell the rights, and finds itself stuck. They are taking advantage of the health crisis to try to save".
According to this same source, the "only favorable scenario for the LFP", namely that "Mediapro comes to its senses and pays", is precisely "the least plausible".
- Canal + in a "strong position" -
Under these conditions, all leaders are starting to look elsewhere.
"Either Mediapro and its shareholders are able to pay us, which does not seem to be the case today, or this contract must end as quickly as possible so that we can talk to other broadcasters", insists Clot.
Aulas for his part has already started to "think about another mode of distribution", repeatedly evoking the idea of a "Spotify of football", an on-demand platform inspired by the giants of online content.
But the boss of OL also invites "not to forget the three partners who paid", namely Free (for extracts of matches), beIN Sports and Canal +.
The encrypted channel is also mentioned on the front line by all the actors questioned, considering it essential in the future, with or without Mediapro.
"Perhaps by simplifying (broadcasting) around Canal, we would provide a solution for the user," Aulas says.
The audiovisual group announced Friday through the voice of its boss Maxime Saada in the daily Les Echos that there was "no question of plunging Canal + into the red by reinvesting at a loss in football".
A symbol of the "strong position" available to the encrypted channel, notes a source familiar with the matter, who concludes: "Their strategy seems to be the right one".
© 2020 AFP