Later be in sports Y Channel+, Free invites himself to 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 review of the price of its contract.
Although this attack is independent of those of beIN Sports and Canal+ (the first sublicensee of the two daily Ligue 1 games for €332 million per season), who want the entire contract terminated, Free is based on the same observation: an “inequality” of prices since the signing of the new agreement 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 million-, while the Spanish audiovisual group was initially going to pay more than €800 million per year.
Free does not consider himself a true partner of the LFP
Broadcaster of 100% of Ligue 1 almost directly on its site and its application “Free Ligue 1” against 42 million euros (without taxes) per season, Free no longer wishes to pay a set amount during the May 2018 tender , before the health crisis and the Mediapro affair. It asks the courts for a review of its price, aligned with the differential between the price of “Mediapro” and the price of “Amazon”, for the entire period 2020-2024.
Free match commentators, in booths in offices located in Paris. (P. Lahalle/The team)
Behind the scenes, the owner of the lot almost live, moreover, has often expressed regret that he is not considered a real partner by the League, nor listened to. He regularly deplores, for example, not being able to spread excerpts of some actions on social networks. He should also have called his application “Free Ligue 1 Uber Eats” during the first season of the contract (2020-2021), when at first he 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 opportunity to launch his “Pass Ligue 1” without this mention.
After small gestures, Free opts for a more offensive formula
Until then, Free had been content to express his discontent 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 reduction to the League in writing, on February 17, 2021, without success. This time, opt for a more offensive formula. This attack on the fund will, however, have a direct effect on the judicial calendar. Initially scheduled for May, the decision of the investigating judge would have been postponed until December, in particular due to the arrival of this new complaint.
It is not enough to do Canal+’s business while its president Maxime Saada confided last Thursday in The team don’t lose hope of winning: “There is a possibility that the Ligue 1 rights contract will be questioned”. In the meantime, the encrypted channel must respect its sublicense agreement with beIN Sports, as recently requested by the Versailles Court of Appeal, and pay the 332 million euros owed per season for its two L1 matches (Saturday 9:00 p.m. and Sunday 5:00 p.m.). Libre will also have to settle its usual installments for the decision.
Contacted, Free declined to comment and the League did not respond to our requests.