Like beIN Sports and Canal+, Free attacks the LFP over Ligue 1 rights

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After bein Sports and Canal+, Free invites himself into the endless legal soap opera of the Ligue 1 broadcasting rights contract, period 2020-2024. According to our information, the operator summoned the Professional Football League to the Paris Court of Justice on March 15, in order to demand a revision of the price of its contract.

While this attack is independent of those of beIN Sports and Canal+ (the first sub-licensees the second two Ligue 1 matches per day against €332 million per season), which want the entire contract to be terminated, Free relies on the same observation: an “inequity” of prices since the signing of the new deal between the League and Amazon last June. The American digital giant had then recovered the rights abandoned by Mediapro – 80%, including the 10 best posters of the season, for 250 M€ – while the Spanish audiovisual group was initially to pay more than 800 M€ per year.

Free does not consider itself a true partner of the LFP

Broadcaster of 100% of Ligue 1 almost directly on its site and its “Free Ligue 1” application against €42 million (excluding taxes) per season, Free no longer wishes to pay an amount established during the call for tenders May 2018, before the health crisis and the Mediapro affair. He is asking the courts for a review of his price, aligned with the differential between the “Mediapro” price and the “Amazon” price, for the entire period 2020-2024.

Match commentators for Free, in booths in offices located in Paris. (P. Lahalle/The Team)

Behind the scenes, the holder of the near-live lot has, moreover, often expressed regret at not being considered a real partner by the League, nor listened to. He regularly deplores, for example, not being able to broadcast extracts from some actions on social networks. He should also have named his application “Free Ligue 1 Uber Eats” during the first season of the contract (2020-2021), when he initially wanted to do without the name of the League partner. The latter would have refused … before granting him this right this season, Amazon having had the possibility of launching his “Pass Ligue 1” without this mention.

After small gestures, Free opts for a more offensive formula

Until then Free had contented itself with expressing its dissatisfaction with small gestures, for example by validating the payment of the first installment of this season a few days late. The operator had also requested a rebate from the League in writing, on February 17, 2021, without success. This time, she opts for a more offensive formula. This attack on the merits will nevertheless have a direct effect on the judicial calendar. Initially scheduled for May, the decision of the trial judge would have been postponed until December, in particular because of the arrival of this new complaint.

Not enough to do the business of Canal + while its president Maxime Saada confided last Thursday in The Team do not lose hope of winning: “there is a likelihood that the Ligue 1 rights contract will be called into question”. In the meantime, the encrypted channel will have to respect its sub-license contract with beIN Sports, as recently requested by the Versailles Court of Appeal, and pay the €332 million due per season for its two L1 matches (Saturday 9 p.m. and Sunday 5 p.m.). Free will also have to settle its usual deadlines by the decision.

Contacted, Free did not wish to comment and the League did not respond to our requests.

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