Death of Bill Russell, American basketball legend and civil rights defender

He was for his family “the most prolific winner in American sports history” and for former President Barack Obama ” a giant “ : Bill Russell, crowned eleven-time NBA champion with the Celtics and civil rights defender, died on Sunday July 31.

“Bill Russell, the most prolific winner in American sports history, died peacefully today at the age of 88, with his wife Jeannine at his bedside”announced his family on the Twitter account of the former player.

Upon the announcement of his death, the NBA paid tribute to the “greatest champion of all team sports”. His record is impressive and will probably never be equaled: in thirteen seasons in the NBA, all under the green jersey of the Boston Celtics, Russell won eleven league titles, a record that still stands, including eight in a row from 1959 to 1966.

Figure of American society

Although he ended his career with a very respectable average of 15.1 points per game, Russell made a name for himself thanks to his defense: from the height of his 2.08 m, he was intractable and sickened his opponents with their counters. He was also the first black American appointed to head a professional sports franchise across the Atlantic and the first to be crowned, in his second year (1967), at the head of ” his “ Celtics.

It is also outside the basketball courts that Russell has become a figure in American society, which earned him in 2011 from the hands of Barack Obama the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest American civilian honor.

“Today we lost a giant”reacted to the announcement of his death the former American president. “On the court, he was the greatest champion in basketball history. Off the pitch, he was a civil rights pioneer, marching with Doctor (Martin Luther) King and standing alongside Muhammad Ali. »

Advance the cause of civil rights

Born in 1934 in Louisiana, in a Deep South still living under a regime of racial discrimination, before moving with his family to California in the 1940s, Russell used his notoriety to advance the cause of civil rights. In 1963, he participated in Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.

“Bill stood for something much bigger than sport: the values ​​of equality, respect and inclusion that he inscribed in our league’s DNA”NBA boss Adam Silver said in a statement.

While the date of his funeral has not yet been set, his family hoped that “Each of us finds ways to speak and act Bill’s way, without compromise, with dignity and an always constructive approach.”



Football: outcome in sight for Ligue 1 TV rights

A crucial decision for French football. The Competition Authority dismissed on Friday, June 11 an appeal from Canal + concerning the terms of reassignment of Ligue 1 TV rights. Consequently, the legal horizon emerges with a view to an expected agreement between the encrypted channel and the League professional football (LFP).

After the defective broadcaster Mediapro was withdrawn during the season, the Vivendi group channel lodged an appeal for ” abuse of dominant position “ against the decision of the LFP to only put into play the lots abandoned by the Sino-Spanish group, without including lot 3 held by Canal +.

The encrypted channel, which paid 330 million euros for the two matches of each day planned in this lot, estimated its value now overvalued and called for a global tender. The LFP finally won its case, both before the commercial court in March, even if Canal + announced that it wanted to appeal, and before the Competition Authority on Friday 11 June.

“At the end of its examination, the Authority rejected the referral to the merits of Canal + and the associated request for precautionary measures, considering that they were not accompanied by sufficiently convincing elements”, she wrote in a statement.

According to this decision, the LFP was within its rights by launching its partial call for tenders in early February, covering 80% of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 and ultimately unsuccessful, then opting since then for direct negotiations with broadcasters. interested.

Clubs without a diffuser

The rejection of the appeal of Canal + therefore clears the legal horizon of French football by making possible an agreement by mutual agreement.

According to sources close to the negotiations, this decision could accelerate an agreement with Canal + and beIN Sports, hoped for in the coming hours in the face of the emergency in which Ligue 1 finds itself: the clubs are currently without a broadcaster unless two months of the resumption of the 2021-2022 season in early August and must present a consistent budget on June 14 to the DNCG.

→ ANALYSIS TV rights: does French football deserve such a discount?

Domestic TV rights, initially expected at 1.217 billion euros per year for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, fell, for the 2020-2021 season, to around 683 million euros after the default of Mediapro and the closure of its ephemeral Téléfoot channel.

Maxime Saada, boss of Canal +, expects negotiations around an overall annual figure “Close to previous cycles”, namely an average of 650 million euros per year.



TV rights: Canal + saves French football

Ligue 1 is saved, at least for now! Canal + and French football reached an unexpected agreement Thursday February 4 for the broadcast of Ligue 1 until the end of the season, relieving the sector in the short term, without however erasing the drastic losses seen by the clubs after an audiovisual crisis unprecedented.

From next February 12, for the 25th day, and until the end of the 2020-21 season, the French football broadcaster will be called Canal +.

Vivendi’s subsidiary, uncompromising with the Professional Football League (LFP) in recent weeks, finally made a gesture towards the clubs, agreeing on Thursday to buy the TV rights to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 abandoned in December by the failing broadcaster Mediapro , at a ridiculous price.

35 million additional for 14 days of the championship

According to several sources with knowledge of the case, Canal + has thus agreed to pay an allowance of 35 million euros to the LFP, in exchange for the exclusive exploitation of all the matches of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 released by Mediapro and remaining to be played until June (14 days of the Championship).

→ DEBATE. Can French football go bankrupt?

These 35 million euros are in addition to the 332 million euros per year already promised by the encrypted channel for the remaining 20% ​​of Ligue 1, which it broadcasts through a sub-license agreement with beIN Sports. Canal + had indicated in recent weeks wanting to return these matches with a view to a global call for tenders, leaving even more catastrophic losses for the clubs … But this windfall was finally secured via the agreement found on Thursday.

At the end of the season, Canal will therefore have spent 367 million euros, in addition to the 3 million euros negotiated according to the media. Days for the Sunday co-broadcast of the OM-PSG Classic, and an undisclosed sum for the broadcast in January of the Champions Trophy … A triumph for Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi and Maxime Saada, the boss of the channel.

→ ANALYSIS. TV rights: does French football deserve such a discount?

“This is good news because the situation was quite dramatic and the negotiations led by (the boss of the League) Vincent Labrune were very effective. It was not easy to find this solution ”, reacted on RMC the president of Lyon Jean-Michel Aulas, according to whom Canal “Shows that we can count on him, despite difficult positions in recent days”.



TV rights deal: is football off the hook?

► How did Canal + win the bid?

It was a very small door at the end of the dead end. But all the players concerned ended up finding it and rushing into it urgently: the agreement signed on February 4 by the Professional Football League (LFP) and Canal + ensures at least the next few months by unwinding the ball of TV rights tangled since their retrocession by Mediapro in December 2020. The new call for tenders launched by the LFP having been declared “unsuccessful” at the beginning of the week and Canal + having refused to negotiate by mutual agreement, all the emergency exits seemed closed.

→ THE FACTS. TV rights: Canal + saves French football

But the boss of Canal +, Maxime Saada, finally picked up his phone to actually negotiate with Vincent Labrune, the president of the LFP. Not on all rights for the period 2020-2024, but to save the essentials this season. For around 200 million euros, Canal + recovers all of the 80% of rights abandoned by Mediapro, from next week until the end of May.

→ DEBATE. Can French football go bankrupt?

This sum includes the payment in advance of its rights sublicensed by BeIn Sport to Canal + to broadcast two posters per weekend, or 165 million euros, plus an extension of 35 million euros. For this very modest price, Canal + is once again becoming the football channel broadcasting all of Ligue 1. A first since 2008.

► What consequences for the clubs?

With the jackpot promised by Mediapro, French football was to collect 1.2 billion euros per year. For this season after the agreement with Canal +, here are the domestic rights reduced in total by 40%, to just under 700 million euros. Almost the sums collected in TV rights over the period 2008-2012. Suffice to say that the shortfall is cringe. “This agreement was the only one possible. But it confirms the reality of a scenario of major financial crisis for French professional football ”, lamented Loïc Ferry, the president of Lorient, in the columns of The Team.

For some clubs, whose budgets depend on 50 to 75% of television revenues (Angers, Dijon, Reims, Nîmes), the coming months are shaping up to be very tight. Especially since crossing the sanitary desert obviously complicates the situation. The clubs are still forced for weeks behind closed doors, and the lackluster winter transfer window does little to encourage optimism for future summer transfers. The issue of lower wages is bound to come up again. If negotiations are underway, few clubs, like RC Lens at the end of January, have reached agreements.

► And for the rest?

The agreement reached is only valid for this season. Does it augur the definitive return of Canal + as a historic football channel? Amateurs will temporarily be pleased to find a clearer television offer, no longer forcing more subscriptions.

→ READ. Football: which channel for which match? The TV rights puzzle

For the rest, the ball is again in the camp of the LFP. It can take the time to negotiate over-the-counter, in particular with the new entrants who participated in its call for tenders: Amazon, the DAZN streaming platform and Discovery, the parent company of Eurosport. But Canal + would then have to continue paying its sublicensed rights to BeIN, a solution that Canal + already refuses, with an appeal on which the Paris Commercial Court must rule on February 19.

The other solution would be to relaunch, as Canal + wishes, a global call for tenders for the period 2021-2025. Will Canal + also take this decision?



TV rights: does French football deserve such a discount?

Drawn, really. Between those who participate on the tip of the crampons and those who for the moment refuse to enter the lawn, three everywhere, the ball in the center, and the Professional Football League (LFP) does not quite know how to whistle the end of the game poker liar on his television rights.

→ READ. Football: the League launches a “consultation” until February 1 for its TV rights

Closing Monday 1er February its call for tenders to reallocate the rights recently abandoned by Mediapro, the LFP did have a few envelopes to open, but in the sender box, not the slightest trace of Canal +, BeIN Sport or RMC Sport, the three football broadcasters major in France. On the other hand, three new names have appeared: Amazon, the DAZN streaming platform and the American group Discovery, parent company of Eurosport. Little consolation. The sums proposed by them are not up to the hopes of the LFP. The call for tenders is therefore judged “Unsuccessful”. Forward to a new period of negotiation and uncertainty.

A championship that purrs

What should we deduce from it? A decline in interest in French football, or at least such a degradation of the “product” that no one rushes to buy it almost without counting? “There is first of all a cyclical effect, with a Ligue 1 weakened by the Covid, and especially an LFP discredited by its management of the Mediapro file, which reverses the balance of power with broadcasters, foremost among which Canal +, who now see the possibility of recovering matches for very little money, underlines the economist Jérémie Bastien, lecturer at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne. But there are also structural problems, with the increased competition from foreign leagues, a model of championship which purrs and which struggles to seduce, especially young people. “

The poor quality of Ligue 1 compared to the “big” foreign leagues is often singled out. Even the French posters – the classic PSG-Marseille or the derbies like Lyon-Saint-Étienne – do not weigh heavily against the series duels of the Premier League across the Channel. “Faced with increasingly deterritorialized consumers, broadcasters have played the card of retransmissions of foreign championships, and this has accentuated the lack of interest in Ligue 1, even if this substitution effect is still poorly measured”, comments Jérémie Bastien.

The domination of PSG in recent years is also highlighted. But suspense is not on the agenda either in Italy where Juventus has monopolized the national title for nine years, in Germany where Bayern Munich has reigned continuously for eight years, or in Spain where the mano a mano between Barcelona and Real Madrid rarely leave room for other contenders. Only the Premier League maintains the glorious uncertainty of sport. But any comparison with the Premier League is necessarily unfavorable …

Innovate to attract young people

The lack of appetite of young people is in fact much more worrying. For years, a whole segment of the public has turned away from sports in general, and football in particular. In autumn 2020, a study by the European Club Association (ECA) carried out in seven countries (but not in France) revealed that barely 28% of 16-24 year olds said they were “Fans” football, when 39% were “Not to be interested in it at all”, even ” to hate “ discipline.

Figures that leave sports economist Pierre Rondeau skeptical: “Firstly because among the youngest, the passion for football is still largely in the majority, he says. Then because I think that 18-25 year olds, more than a lack of interest in football, are characterized by a different mode of consumption. There is also a real success of podcasts, some productions on YouTube, on Twitch video streaming. The Fifa game remains the best-selling leisure product in France. If young people are turning away from the broadcasting of matches, it is because of competition from other leisure activities, such as series for example, and the too high price of the various subscriptions to pay. ” Tariffs which largely explain a strong increase in piracy and which would represent more than a billion euros in losses for broadcasters who, necessarily, take it into account in their downward calculations.

“It is not the young people who are turning away from football, it is the products that they are given to see that no longer correspond to their expectations, adds Jérémie Bastien. We should be inspired for example by the American NBA, which offers multiple short sequences. Not just the best baskets of his basketball players, but the best passes, the best blocks, etc. French football remains on a traditional model which lacks innovations. The broadcasters themselves must question themselves. “


An endless soap opera

After declaring “unsuccessful” its call for tenders for the 80% of rights retroceded by Mediapro, the LFP decided to “48 hours to define the next steps in the commercialization of rights”. It can now negotiate over-the-counter with the players who applied for the call for tenders (Amazon, DAZN, Dicovery) or even with those absent, especially Canal + and BeIN. Canal + is currently sticking to its position: the group is contesting the call for tenders which did not take into account the 20% of rights owned by BeIN but sublicensed to Canal + for 332 million euros per year, a rate that Canal + now considers prohibitive. The Paris Commercial Court is due to rule on this case on February 19.



Football: the League launches a “consultation” until February 1 for its TV rights

The TV rights of French professional football have been officially on the market since Wednesday, January 20. Through this consultation, the Professional Football League (LFP) is awaiting offers at the 1er February for the purchase of matches abandoned by its now ex-broadcaster Mediapro.

→ CONTEXT. Football: TV rights, the League terminates the contract with Mediapro

The epilogue is approaching for French football and its clubs, in great financial difficulty because of the health crisis and that of TV rights. After terminating in December the contract binding it to the Sino-Spanish group Mediapro, unable to honor its promise of a windfall exceeding 800 million euros per year, the League has resolved to publicly appeal to others broadcasters, via two procedures, one for Ligue 1 and the other for Ligue 2.

A period of ten days

Interested operators, Canal + in the lead, therefore now have only ten days to put together a quantified offer on the lots of meetings involved, which run from February 5, 2021 until the end of the planned cycle, i.e. until ‘to June 2024. The lots are close to those of the initial call for tenders of 2018, with in particular a “premium” lot composed of the Sunday evening posters, including the ten best of the season.

These four prizes for Ligue 1 and two prizes for Ligue 2 correspond only to the matches initially obtained by Mediapro, i.e. 80% of the matches of the two championships. Contrary to the wishes of the encrypted channel, they do not include the famous “lot n ° 3”, currently broadcast by Canal + for 330 million euros annually and composed of 20% of Ligue 1 matches, including the poster. Saturday evening (9 p.m.).

What position for Canal +?

The boss of the Vivendi group’s channel, Maxime Saada, had in fact positioned himself last week in favor of a real global call for tenders, and not of a consultation of this type, announcing in the columns of Figaro that ‘he counted “Return” its share of meetings, which Canal + broadcasts via a sub-license agreement signed with its partner BeIN Sports.

→ READ. Football: Canal + wants a call for tenders for TV rights

But the League has a different analysis and does not intend to put these matches in competition, which raises fears of a Canal + challenge in court and new legal battles in the coming weeks. Under these conditions, will Canal + be inclined to apply during this consultation? To date, it is the only one to have publicly expressed its interest in buying the TV rights to French football, even if other operators are sometimes cited by some observers.



Football: Canal + wants a call for tenders for TV rights

Canal + will not make a gift to the League for TV rights: the encrypted channel asked Tuesday, January 13 for a new call for tenders for all Ligue 1 matches, posing the threat of an even more drastic reduction in television revenues for clubs.

→ CONTEXT. French football is keeping its fingers crossed on its future

Believing that “Ligue 1 has lost a lot of value” with the Covid-19 crisis and the withdrawal of the major broadcaster Mediapro negotiated in December, the boss of Canal +, Maxime Saada, announced in an interview with Figaro that his channel intended to return to the Professional Football League (LFP) its share of matches (20% of L1), wishing to see all of the matches put back on sale via a new call for tenders.

“We finally came to the conclusion on the Canal + side that it was in the interest of all stakeholders to go through a call for tenders”, said Maxime Saada, while, according to several sources familiar with the matter, the League favored a reallocation via a mutual agreement between the two parties.

Record contracts signed in 2018

Canal + currently broadcasts 20% of Ligue 1 matches, via a sub-license signed with BeIN Sports, for an annual amount of 330 million euros. The remaining 80% are still broadcast on Téléfoot, the channel of the Sino-Spanish group Mediapro, even though the latter negotiated its withdrawal with the League last December.

Football: Canal + wants a call for tenders for TV rights

Initially, the contract for the broadcasting of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for the 2020-24 cycle had broken records, reaching the annual amount of 1.217 billion euros, of which more than 800 million for the Mediapro group alone, new came to the French market.

→ DEBATE. Can French football go bankrupt?

But since September, Mediapro wanted to renegotiate its contract downwards and ended up agreeing to withdraw from the market, in return for compensation of 100 million euros against the promise not to be sued.

Canal + has always insisted, since the 2018 call for tenders, that Ligue 1 had been overestimated by Mediapro. In October, Maxime Saada had already indicated that the channel would refuse to “Reinvest at a loss in football”. On Tuesday, the leader also insisted that Canal did not “Not been treated properly in recent years” by French football, between the call for tenders and the postponements of matches because of the demonstrations of “yellow vests” for example.

Canal + alone in the running?

For the Vivendi group channel, the call for tenders is a risk: by returning its lots, it runs the risk of leaving empty-handed about the future allocation. But in the opinion of all observers, few other broadcasters (RMC Sport? Amazon? The DAZN platform?) Seem able to invest a lot of money in French football.

→ ANALYSIS. Break between Mediapro and the League, French football forced to reinvent itself

In addition, Canal + has an agreement with its former competitor BeIN Sports, and several sources close to the negotiations questioned in recent days saw them act together on the matter.

For the LFP, which had not reacted in the evening Tuesday, the call for tenders suggests a drastic reduction in the TV rights of Ligue 1, which could be negotiated downwards.



Football: TV rights, the League terminates the contract with Mediapro

The Professional Football League has decided to end the contract which bound it until 2024 with its major broadcaster Mediapro (via its Téléfoot channel), after two months of conflict over the television rights of the French championship, we have learned Friday, December 11 from a source with access to the file.

→ IN JUNE. Téléfoot, the new channel that will broadcast Ligue 1

The output of the failing Sino-Spanish broadcaster has yet to be validated by the Nanterre commercial court, the same source said, indicating that the LFP should recover its broadcasting rights by December 21. A board of directors of the LFP was held Friday morning to study the issue. Contacted by AFP, Mediapro declined to comment.

→ DEBATE. Can French football go bankrupt?

The Sino-Spanish group, holder of 80% of the rights to the French football championships (Ligue 1 and Ligue 2) for a record sum of more than 800 million euros per year and a newcomer to the French market, was in negotiations since October 19 with the LFP via a procedure with the commercial court of Nanterre.

Citing the Covid-19 health crisis which would have reduced the real value of the championship, he had indicated that he wanted to renegotiate the contract for this 2020-2021 season, initially asking for a discount while refusing to pay the contract due in October and December , totaling approximately € 325 million.

Canal + to the rescue?

In a conciliation that has accelerated in recent days through the intermediary of the judicial representative Marc Sénéchal, the scenarios for ending the crisis have gradually come down to a withdrawal of Mediapro, allowing the League to recover its rights televised for resale.

All eyes will now turn to Canal +, the historic broadcaster of the French championship which remains discreet on the file and has already indicated via its boss Maxime Saada that he would not reinvest ” at a loss In football.

This raises fears of a discount of several hundred million euros per year, compared to the historic contract negotiated during the call for tenders in 2018, in the amount of 1.217 billion euros for Ligue 1 and the League. 2, including more than 800 for Mediapro. A sharp drop that may be difficult to cash for many clubs, already weakened by the health crisis and empty stadiums, and whose budgets depend largely on TV rights paid by the League.