LFP pleads for urgent government support as French football faces crisis
The LFP wants an urgent meeting with France's government to create a support package that would help clubs ward off the risk of bankruptcy.
The body in charge of France's football leagues has called for urgent government support to help the sport survive its financial crisis.
The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) on Tuesday called for a meeting with authorities to establish an "emergency support plan" to safeguard the future of professional French clubs.
It said collective losses of more than €1billion meant "the survival of the professional football industry is at stake".
The stark warning came in the wake of the collapse of the television channel Telefoot Chaine, which broadcast for the final time last week.
Mediapro, which operated the channel, had struck a lucrative five-year deal with the LFP for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 broadcast rights, but that agreement was cancelled in December after less than six months.
The LFP agreed a new deal with Canal Plus last week but, with the reduced broadcast earnings and the impact of behind-closed-doors matches during the coronavirus pandemic, it is forecasting overall revenue of €759.1m - almost €0.5billion less than had been budgeted by clubs for 2020-21.
"In this context, the measures already taken by the government for the current season last November have unfortunately turned out to be insufficient or inappropriate in terms of enabling the continuation of activity for the industry," the LFP said in a statement. "Especially since these announcements did not take into account the continuation of the closed-door matches in 2021.
"Consequently, the LFP requests an emergency meeting with the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Recovery, and the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports to receive the leaders of the LFP and a delegation of clubs to build an emergency support plan.
Survival of industry at stake
"There is no question here of asking the state to compensate for the drop in TV rights, or the failure of Mediapro. On these issues, the clubs have already made great efforts to adapt to this major drop in income, both through salary negotiations with their players and through the reforms that the LFP is preparing to ensure its future. However, it is essential that the state participates in helping professional clubs and their shareholders to overcome the emergencies that the COVID-19 crisis has generated.
"The survival of the professional football industry is at stake, and above all of a cultural and economic heritage that cannot be allowed to go up in smoke today."