Broadcaster BeIN Sits Out Bid for TV Rights to French Football 

BeIN, one of the largest sports broadcasters in France, decided not to bid for a package of live television rights put up for tender by the country’s soccer league, a person with knowledge of the bidding process said.

Doha-based BeIN didn’t submit a proposal to France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel by the Monday deadline, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The league issued a statement late in the day that said that broadcasters DAZN and Inc. were among four groups that bid, but that none of the bids reached the reserve price. It said it would decide on its next step in the next 48 hours, according to the statement on its website.

It’s a worrying development for soccer authorities, who are desperate to inject fresh funds into France’s struggling clubs and ensure local fans can continue to watch their domestic league featuring global stars such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Broadcaster Canal+ also didn’t take part in the latest tender process, French daily L’Equipe reported Monday, without citing sources.

The French league is holding a fresh tender after Spanish broadcaster Mediapro ended its contract early. Mediapro’s deal to broadcast about 80% of the top French soccer games was valued at about 800 million euros ($966 million) annually, according to media reports.

BeIN has recently been taking a more aggressive stance in its negotiations with sports leagues. In September, it walked away from talks about renewing a contract to show games of Germany’s Bundesliga, after paying 200 million euros for its previous five-year deal.

The company could still end up entering discussions on a deal to show the French games if the league decides to approach broadcasters for further negotiations, the person said. A representative for BeIN declined to comment. A spokesperson for the French football league didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Soccer contributes around 7.5 billion euros, indirectly and directly, to the French economy each year, according to Ernst & Young. Losses were already mounting for many clubs even before the Covid-19 pandemic forced stadiums to close to fans and then the suspension of the 2019-20 season. The big hit, though, came after the collapse of the Mediapro deal.

France’s government has been looking at ways of providing financial support to the soccer industry. President Emmanuel Macron’s administration is considering instruments such as “equity loans,” which don’t need to be repaid right away and can count as equity to repair corporate balance sheets, Bloomberg News reported in January.

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