Canal Plus to show Marseille v PSG as media giants battle over broadcast rights

·3-min read

As organisers of France’s top two football leagues consider the best price they can get for the rights to broadcast matches on TV, one of the biggest games in the calendar - Marseille v Paris Saint Germain - has been sold to the highest bidder on a one-off basis.

Canal Plus said it would scrap its scheduled top flight rugby match on Sunday evening and run le classique - as games between Marseille and PSG are dubbed.

The clash between the two rivals comes as part of the 23 round of fixtures in Ligue 1. The game will also be shown on Telefoot.

On Wednesday, the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) told broadcasters that they could submit their bids to buy the rights for the match.

M6 and TF1 made offers but Canal Plus, which used to show the majority of Ligue 1 matches on TV before it was usurped by the Spanish firm Mediapro, won the race. A price has not been disclosed.

Canal Plus boss Maxime Saada crowed about the coup on social media.

Marseille entertain the French champions in a relative state of disarray, just like the LFP.

On Tuesday night, head coach Andre-Villas Boas was sacked for publicly voicing his opposition to the club’s transfer policy.

The LFP is desperately trying to capture a good deal for the broadcasting rights after their three billion euro contract with Mediapro collapsed.

The vaunted accord was concluded in 2018 and was supposed to bring 780 million euros a year to clubs from the start of the 2020/21 season.

Refusal

But last autumn Mediapro refused to pay the initial instalments. The Chinese-backed firm said it wanted to renegotiate the contract and after the LFP refused, the disagreement was eventually settled in court in December with Mediapro withdrawing from the contract.

On Monday, the LFP formally offered up the TV rights again. However, traditional broadcasters such as beIN Sport and Canal Plus did not make a bid.

And potentially new operators such as Amazon, DAZN and Discovery also handed in proposals the LFP deemed below par.

“The LFP rolled the dice and lost,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of Eurasian sport at emlyon business school in Paris.

“They have to go back to the table with humility because the balance of power has gone from the LFP to the broadcasters.

“Up until the last five years, offering up TV rights has been lucrative. But the way people consume the product is changing. Many don’t want to sit down and watch one match with pundits before and after. It’s about shorter, sharper pieces.”

Emotion

There should be cutting edge and spice aplenty on Sunday night when Marseille and PSG's players walk out.

During their last meeting at the Parc des Princes in Paris in September, five players were sent off as PSG’s Neymar accused Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez of racially abusing him.

PSG avenged that 1-0 loss with victory in the Trophée des Champions to give new boss Mauricio Pochettino the first piece of silverware in his 12-year managerial career.

However, PSG could find themselves six points behind Lille if Christophe Galtier's outfit win their match at Nantes on Sunday afternoon.

Marseille, following a 2-2 draw at Lens on Wednesday night, would then start 21 points behind the leaders.

Chance

And even if the title tilt seems increasingly forlorn, Marseille have the chance for a much more parochial pyrotechnics.

Victory will mean they have won both games against PSG for the first time since the 2009/10 season.

Although Canal Plus has paid to cover the match, it is playing hardball with the LFP by calling for all the TV rights to be put up for sale.

“The LFP did not read the situation at all well,” added Chadwick. “They will have to accept less for the rights and eat humble pie.”

On Sunday night for a few hours at least, courtesy of Marseille and PSG, the LFP will be able to have its cake and eat it.