The verdict is in: there will be no need to put all the prizes in Ligue 1 football back into play. The Competition Authority rejected Canal + ‘s request and the associated request for precautionary measures, “considering that they were not accompanied by sufficiently convincing evidence”.
The encrypted channel had seized the antitrust in January: it accused the Professional Football League (LFP) of having committed an “abuse of a dominant position” by releasing on the market only the rights returned by Mediapro, following the failure of the Spanish group.
Canal + would have liked the LFP to also include in the call for tenders organized at the start of the year, lot 3 (Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon matches) which had been awarded in May 2018 to BeIN Sports, and sub-licensees to Canal. The group also seized the Commercial Court, which had dismissed it on March 11.
In its decision, the Competition Authority emphasizes that the LFP’s choice not to include this famous lot 3 “was both necessary and proportionate”. “In a context further marked by the health crisis, which has degraded the income prospects of football clubs, the LFP had no interest, quite the contrary, in terminating the contract for lot 3”.
In addition, the market consultation at the start of the year did not appear to be “discriminatory” insofar as it treated “all candidates in an equivalent situation in the same way”. The fact that Canal “bears alone, given the sub-license agreement freely signed with beIN, the financial burden associated with lot 3, is irrelevant for the analysis of a situation of discrimination”, explains the antitrust .
Even if it was widely expected, the rejection of Canal +’s request places the LFP in a better position to negotiate with Canal +, and other players such as beIN but also potentially Amazon.
A few weeks before the resumption of competitions – in early August – and while Ligue 1 still has no broadcaster, the LFP can breathe a sigh of relief. Even if it is not excluded that Canal + will return to the charge in court if Amazon obtained the ex-batch of Mediapro for less than this famous batch 3 of 2018.
The verdict on the allocation by the LFP of television rights is potentially expected this Friday.