Tuesday, September 22, 2020

"The French model of professional football leagues is partly obsolete"

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Tribune. The eliminations of French clubs in the group stage of the Europa League sign a new failure of French football on the European scene. This low level of performance in continental competitions is coupled with a poor quality of the show produced in domestic competition. Behind Paris Saint-Germain and its undisputed domination, the Ligue 1 championship seems to have become a gigantic "soft belly". The French model of professional football leagues is partly obsolete.

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In his defense, the Professional Football League (LFP) is torn between the interests of "small" and "big" clubs, and faced with a heavier tax system than that to which its European neighbors are subjected. This tax differential, combined with a relative weakness in audiovisual broadcasting rights, explains the flight of French talent to more profitable leagues.

"The League never managed to really choose between a highly redistributive model and an elitist model"

The governance of the LFP is very difficult: decision-making within a college of 42 or 43 professional clubs with very different interests is a real challenge. The League has never managed to really choose between a highly redistributive model (guaranteeing a high level of domestic competition and a mediocre continental level) and an elitist model (leading to a large domestic imbalance and high competitiveness in European competitions) .

There are two elements of consensus within the LFP: efforts to increase the broadcasting rights of professional leagues and the policy of restricting the flow of promotions and relegations. In terms of TV rights, the LFP has had some success in increasing all domestic rights (Ligue 1 + Ligue 2) from € 748.5 million to € 1.217 billion per year between 2016 and 2020. As for promotions and relegations, the annual flow went from 3 (ascents and descents) to 2, to which is added the possible promotion of the winner of the play-off match.

A professional Ligue 3 for safety net

In the pyramid system of European football (the base of which is the base of amateur championships), the obsession of professional clubs is indeed to secure a presence in the upper divisions. Any relegation is an industrial disaster, raising the average budget of a club from 100 to 14 million euros between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, and from 14 to 2.5 million euros between Ligue 2 and National 1. Any relegation leads to a drastic reduction in the wage bill and destabilizes the economic model of the company.

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