Mediators unveil deal to end TV rights row between Mediapro and French league organisers

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Mediators on Tuesday unveiled a deal between French league football bosses and the broadcaster Mediapro over nearly 326 million euros of missed payments for televising Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), which runs the top two divisions in France, and the Sino-Spanish group had been in dispute since Mediapro failed to hand over 152.5m euros in October.

The group, which is majority-owned by Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai, said it should not have to abide by its original agreement with the LFP as the coronavirus pandemic had changed the financial landscape.

In April 2018 the LFP announced a three billion euro deal with Mediapro for a four-year TV rights package starting in 2020. French football supremos at the time boasted the cash would allow the nation's top flight teams to compete more evenly with their Spanish, English and Italian league counterparts.

Rethink

However, the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed sports business models throughout the world in 2020. The Olympic Games in Tokyo was among the high-profile events to be cancelled or postponed.

Under the terms of the agreement at the Nanterre commercial court, Mediapro will pay 100 million euros and give up its broadcasting rights.

That will allow the LFP to renegotiate a package of highlights and live matches with other TV channels such as Canal + and bein Sports. The LFP will also agree not to take any legal action against Mediapro.

The 2019/2020 French football season ended early as part of the government’s efforts to fight the first wave of the pandemic.

Though the 2020/21campaign started as scheduled in August, fans have not been allowed into French stadiums because of continuing restrictions to fight the pandemic.