Football TV rights crisis: these club bosses who want things to change

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The hull of the boat is badly damaged, but you have to stay calm and not look for the lifeboats. Without going so far as to make the orchestra play like on the Titanic … So we could summarize the state of mind of many presidents of professional clubs, faced with Mediapro’s inability to meet its commitments, who believe that coolness must prevail.

Still, the financial situation looks like a disaster. Already deteriorated by the absence of an audience in the stadiums and a sluggish transfer market, it appears acutely that club accounting is completely dependent on TV rights which represent on average 55% of budgets (up to 76.2% for Nîmes…).

This Saturday, the second installment of 172 million euros included in the Mediapro contract should have been paid to the clubs. As the broadcaster does not honor his bill, the League will compensate with a bank loan and the mobilization of own resources. But the respite is only temporary and a new deadline for Mediapro is already looming, at the beginning of December …

“If ever a disaster were to occur, it would not be the problem of a few clubs but of the whole system,” said Waldemar Kita, president of Nantes. Remember that part of the TV rights money goes to the referees, the federation and the amateur world. We will need the state with this slogan: We must not kill football! Now it’s up to us to be imaginative and find solutions. “

For Bernard Joannin, his counterpart in Amiens (Ligue 2), “it is an aggregation of trouble which falls on football. Our income is disappearing. The world of football is very weakened and I hope an awareness of this weakening by its actors (agents, players, managers). Because our standard of living is exaggerated and we need a profound change. “

“The bubble has exploded”

Another club boss, provided he is not cited, goes further than Joannin. “The bubble has exploded,” he says. The only ones who have benefited from the explosion of TV rights are the players and their agents, who are less and less frequent. They rely on their contracts. In the future, it is necessary to establish, in writing, mechanisms for lowering wages in the event of a new disaster such as Covid or Mediapro. In the football charter, it is already planned that wages will drop by 20% in the event of relegation to L2. We must add this type of mechanism and above all, stop with the big salaries that suffocate the clubs. “

Waldemar Kita is less convinced by the urgency of changing models. “We would be dead because we would be the only ones,” he shouts. Do you think the other major championships would follow us? No, they would steal our best youngsters very quickly. The Nantes leader refuses to sound the alarm bell too loudly. “If I panic, I’m not up to the job. I may be oblivious, but that’s my philosophy as a business owner. To be afraid would be the worst thing. “

Others nevertheless congratulate themselves on having been afraid at the right time. Like Saint-Etienne who has just sold for a record sum (35 million euros + 5 bonus) his young defender Wesley Fofana to Leicester. The Greens’ idea was to use part of the money to recruit. But at the end of September, through an indiscretion in the League, the club learned of the procrastination of Mediapro and decided, as a matter of urgency, to keep all of its financial manna. “In the professional world, some are cautious, smiles Bernard Joannin. We, as good Picards, keep our feet on the ground. But I fear that others have had a policy, let’s say more daring… ”

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