French TV deal under threat

Date published: August 1 2014

The Top 14's huge TV deal is under threat after the French Competition Authority decided that exclusive rights were unfairly awarded.

The Top 14's blockbuster €355 million television deal is under threat after the French Competition Authority decided that Canal+ were awarded exclusive rights in an unfair manner.

The LNR has already announced that it will appeal the decision which will suspend the five-year deal that is due to begin this season the long-time Top 14 broadcaster.

Subscription sports channel BeIN Sports was behind the complaint, accusing the LNR and Canal+ of excluding them from the bidding process, and they were supported by the Competition Authority.

The suspension is due to start at the beginning of the 2015/16 season because the timing of the decision would make it impossible to auction the rights for the current season.

However there appears to be a long legal battle in store before that takes place,.

“This decision is unjustified, incongruous and open to criticism,” LNR boss Paul Goze told Midi Olympique.

While this decision would not seem to have a major impact on the financial heavyweights of the Top 14, some of the smaller clubs in France could feel the squeeze.

“This decision is very worrying for the smaller clubs. With the five-year deal we were guaranteed some visibility and it allowed us to put in place short and medium-term projects, including signing players on three-year deals,” explained Brive Vice-President Simon Gilham.

“Now it's as if your job contract went from three years to one year.

“Do you understand the impact of €2 million on a budget of €12 million? It's huge. I understand why the richer clubs haven't reacted, but for everyone else the consequences are much more serious. This decision will cost us visibility and I'm very grateful that the LNR has decided to appeal the decision.”

That reaction was in complete contrast to Racing Métro President Jacky Lorenzetti who was not all worried by the turn of events.

“Why would the result of the new bidding process be lower than the deal that has already been signed? I'm not worried about this decision. We need to let the law follow this through,” he said.

The LNR has to react quickly because they now have until January 31 2015 to put in place the new bidding process.