Resumption with shortness of breath for Ligue 1 football this weekend. Less than a year after the sinking of its almost exclusive former broadcaster Mediapro , the French football elite remains handicapped by the impact of the health crisis and the outbreak of the inflationary bubble formed around its audiovisual rights, while the summer transfer market, which traditionally allows clubs to embellish their accounts, is rather calm.

“The clubs are financially drained. We are on the bone ”, warned in mid-July, in“ L’Equipe ”, the president of the DNCG – the financial control authority for clubs – Jean-Marc Mickeler. In fact, French professional football lost 730 million euros in the last season, taking into account a debt write-off of more than 250 millions from shareholders. “More worrying”, he stressed, the cumulative operating losses before transfers reached 1.4 billion.

Complicated situation In this context, Jean-Marc Mickeler did not exclude bankruptcy filings in the event of non-settlement of 330 million euros for this bundle of TV rights, the subject of the dispute between beIN Sports – which obtained it – and Canal + – from which beIN had sub-licensed it -, and matches played behind closed doors for cause of fourth wave.

“The situation is complicated for everyone. We had the double penalty with the Covid and Mediapro. You have to let two to three years pass. The central point is the virus “, comments the president of the new organization bringing together the clubs” pro “United Foot, Laurent Nicollin , also president of the Montpellier Hérault Sport Club. The latter, however, underlines “a return to normal” at the start of the season with the reopening of the stadiums to the public. “We feel a craze”, also rejoices, in this regard, the chairman of the supervisory board of AS Saint-Etienne, Bernard Caïazzo. However, the health threat can still result in partial gauges, as in Montpellier. Likewise, due to lack of visibility, subscription campaigns had to be postponed.

Télédépendance Above all, reminds the consultant and creator of the Vincent Chaudel Sports Observatory, “most clubs remain remote” since they earn a good part of their income with these domestic audiovisual rights. Some, PSG in mind, can, on the other hand, count on the income derived from their participation in the European cups, in the first place the Champions League. “There is a risk of polarization of the L1”, underlines in this respect Vincent Chaudel, while insisting on “the need to be effective at the European level to bring in money”.

However, the L1 suffers from a “dropout” compared to the big leagues, on the current basis of its TV rights, that is to say 330 millions to which are added 75 millions for the international: “Even if the problem of lot 3 is resolved, L1 has half of Serie A Italian, third in the Spanish Liga, and 1/6 in the English Premier League ”, details Vincent Chaudel.

Adaptation In addition, “the adaptation of the economic model” of French football remains more than ever posed, points out the head of economic studies and partnerships at the Center of Law and Economy of Sport of Limoges, Christophe Lepetit. If this finding seems to be consensus, the determination of its modalities will not be easy beyond the passage, already recorded, of the L1 of 18 at 18 clubs. While the clubs have made an effort to reduce their payroll, the idea of ​​a cap, for which the president of the DNCG has been pleading openly for more than a year , obviously still debated. ““ A salary cap ”? Why not. But, the system should not favor the big clubs and create inequalities, ”observes Laurent Nicollin. Another option being considered is reducing the number of player contracts per squad.

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