“The Mediapro affair is due to the greed of professional clubs”

Mediapro boss Jaume Roures (center) on Téléfoot, the channel launched by the Sino-Spanish group to broadcast Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

Interview. Wladimir Andreff, professor emeritus at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, chairs the scientific council of the Observatory of the economy of sport, which is attached to the ministry in charge of sports.

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What is the Mediapro affair symptomatic of?

To speak in psychological terms, the Mediapro affair is due to the greed of the clubs, to their unquenchable desire to have more money year after year. French football has lived in euphoria for fifteen years, at least since the takeover of Paris-Saint-Germain by Qatar [en 2011]. On the one hand, the television channels are doing more. On the other hand, the remote dependence of clubs is increasing. However, this reasoning cannot stand until the dawn of time: there comes a time when rights holders, even the most unreasonable, like Mediapro, can no longer follow. [début octobre, la société n’a pas réglé sa deuxième échéance, qui aurait dû rapporter ce mois-ci 172 millions d’euros au football français].

Does the risk of bankruptcy for French professional football really exist?

It is real if nothing changes. France is not a unique case, but it is one of the most typical cases: the income of several clubs, mainly those with the lowest budgets of the championship, are more than 50% dependent on the redistribution of TV rights..

What responsibility does the Professional Football League bear in the situation?

She may have made a tactical mistake first. If she had made sure to distribute more rights to sell with the two other claimant groups [Canal+ et BeIN Sports], she would have reduced her dependence on Mediapro. It should also have taken into account the fact that the Italian championship had canceled Mediapro’s offer to broadcast Calcio, precisely because Mediapro offered too few financial guarantees.

In May 2018, Mediapro acquired the majority of French football TV rights for the period 2020-2024, promising 780 million euros per year for Ligue 1 …

To win an auction, you have to outbid. And therefore be the most optimistic – or the most liar – about what you are able to pay. It is a phenomenon called the winner’s curse, the winner’s curse. Mediapro obtained the television rights to the championship at too high a price, the information according to which this company quickly sought to resell part of it to Canal + go in this direction. It turns out today that she can’t pay them… But maybe she couldn’t pay them at the time of the auction either.

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