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French football league holds final talks on TV contract

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The French football league is in final negotiations over a television deal less than six weeks before the start of the season after private equity firm CVC pushed to bring potential bidders back to the negotiating table.

DAZN and Amazon, which operate rival TV streaming services, have resumed negotiations, three people familiar with the talks say, as pressure grows on league officials to find a solution.

The lack of a broadcast contract so close to the start of the season has left some teams in financial difficulties.

CVC, which invested €1.5 billion in the Ligue de Football Professionnel in 2022 in return for a 13 percent share of the competition’s future commercial revenues, was instrumental in reviving talks between the broadcasters and the league, three people familiar with the talks said. Negotiations are still being conducted by LFP executives.

French club managers have met twice in recent days to discuss the situation but have not yet been able to agree on a way forward. A third meeting is scheduled for Friday to reach consensus on a deal that could bring the French clubs millions of euros before the season starts on August 18.

“Clubs need to know their financial situation quickly in order to be able to make decisions about buying or selling players,” said a media manager.

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The team owners are expected to discuss two options: a traditional rights deal with a group of broadcasters or the launch of a dedicated French football channel.

UK-based sports streaming service DAZN has offered to buy the majority of the games. Payments to the league will be made in stages towards the end of a contract that runs until 2029 and will be linked to increasing subscriber numbers.

Amazon, whose contract with the league expired at the end of last season, has not made an offer but has been in talks, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Qatar-owned broadcaster BeIN could still step in and buy a small block of games if the LFP signs a contract with another broadcaster for the majority of the games, two people involved in the talks said.

If DAZN’s offer is accepted, either Amazon or BeIN could step in and acquire the remaining games, the people said.

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However, Canal+, once Ligue 1’s main broadcasting partner, reiterated this week its refusal to take part in the process.

French league officials are also considering the ambitious proposal of launching a new direct-to-consumer streaming service for Ligue 1 matches.

The league has been negotiating a deal with Warner Bros Discovery to stream games on its Max platform, which launched in Europe this year.

The production of the live games would be outsourced to third parties, while the revenue from the channel would be split between the clubs and Warner Bros.

“That would be huge,” said another media executive. “It would be the first time a major league has gone direct to consumer. But if you want to do that, now is the time, because the LFP is at its lowest ebb.”

Such a move would mean the league would have to invest in and build its own broadcast infrastructure, which would prove costly, the people said.

In addition, the clubs have no guarantee of future revenue, according to a person familiar with the matter, although CVC has set up a credit facility for those needing short-term financing.

DAZN, Amazon, BeIN and CVC declined to comment. The LFP did not respond to a request for comment.

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