Didier Quillot, the former executive director general of the Professional Football League, explained about the allocation of Ligue 1 TV rights to Mediapro on Thursday at the National Assembly to the parliamentary mission.
His word was expected. Didier Quillot, former executive director general of the Professional Football League (LFP), explained this Thursday to the National Assembly in front of the deputies Cédric Roussel (LREM) and Régis Juanico (Génération.s) as part of the mission parliament conducted since the beginning of June on the financing of sport and sports audiovisual rights (Bernard Caiazzo, chairman of the Saint-Etienne supervisory committee was also heard). He detailed at length the call for tenders process that he conducted in 2018 with the elected officials of the League for the broadcasting rights of Ligue 1 over the period 2021-2024.
Mediapro came out the big winner with 80% of Ligue 1 matches against 780 million euros. The total amount had finally reached 1.153 billion euros per season with the other holders including beIN Sports (which ultimately sublicensed its two matches to Canal +) and Free. But then nothing went as planned. In the summer of 2020, the Sino-Spanish group did not first pay two installments to the League before its contract with a LFP was terminated in December 2020, plunging French football into crisis.
Quillot was no longer in office but his name has come back repeatedly as one of the main culprits of this fiasco. The former leader denies having set out in absolute quest for the billion euros. He even explains that the steering committee has set the reserve price for the rights to Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 at 965 million euros. “We are not going into a frenzy of the billion, we want to reach this reserve price, 965 million euros, he assures. We have never set the 1.2 billion as a priority objective.
“Saada wanted to defeat the tender”
He points to the responsibility of Canal + which he accuses of having scuttled the call for tenders in 2018. “On lot 1 (Sunday evening match including the ten best posters, editor’s note), Canal + offers 262 million euros euros and Mediapro 330 million euros, details Quillot. Canal + is offered to outbid and they refuse. On lot 2 (Friday 9 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m.), Mediapro is offering 250 million euros and Canal + 10 million euros. “
“On lot 3, beIN 332 million euros, Canal offers 10 million euros, he continues. Canal does not wish to outbid. Maxime Saada (chairman of the director of Canal +) wanted to fail the call for tenders as soon as they did not obtain lot 1. The Canal + group fully assumed its strategy of defeating the call for tenders and ensuring that the reserve price was not reached. “
“Each time, on all the following lots, Canal did not outbid and let it go, with the specific aim of defeating the call for tenders and the procedure. Even for digital rights, Canal has positioned itself , at 41 million euros, and let Free win. With this Canal + strategy, we come to be forced to award the lots to Mediapro, since they win the auctions and we have to respect the rules. the league’s board of directors validates these choices and all the results. “
For Quillot, asking for a bank guarantee was “strictly impossible”
He recognized the error of the steering committee in not having requested a bank guarantee in the call for tenders. He recommends it today but considers that this request was then “strictly impossible”. “For 25 years, this has never been asked, including Vivendi or Orange,” he defends himself.
Finally, he tackles Mediapro’s “particularly complicated” business plan which “could have worked without cyclical effects”. He claims to have had confidence in the experience of the group while being surprised at the subscription to 25 euros per month, the price of which was not “explicitly stated” during the call for tenders, but only “two. or three days after “. According to him, the League quickly realized the difficulties to come with the coronavirus crisis, the closed door and the absence of a broadcasting agreement with Canal +. Quillot assumes his share of responsibility and, as he revealed to L’Equipe in December, confirms having waived the bonus he received in connection with the allocation of these TV rights.