French league to take out EUR225M loan to help struggling clubs

PARIS (AFP) – The French league is to take out a state-guaranteed loan, believed to be worth as much as EUR225 million, to compensate for lost television income after the decision to bring a premature end to the football season.

The 40 clubs in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 agreed to ask for the loan at an assembly on Monday, the Professional Football League (LFP) said in a statement.

Sources said the loan corresponds to the amount of money lost by clubs in the top two divisions after broadcasters Canal Plus and beIN Sports said they would not release final payments due for the season, which was ended with 10 rounds of matches unplayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thanks to this loan, the LFP will be able to provide clubs in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 with the remaining sums from the broadcasting rights for the 2019-20 season,” the LFP said. France last week became the biggest European league yet to end its season, just as its neighbours in England, Germany, Italy and Spain consider ways of resuming matches.

Paris Saint-Germain were declared champions, with the decision being made after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that the season “cannot restart” as a result of the pandemic which has killed almost 25,000 people in the country.

The LFP still hopes to start next season in late August, when a record new television deal is due to kick in with Spanish group Mediapro.

Nevertheless, French clubs have been left staring at a huge financial black hole, with the loss of television income being added to the loss of gate receipts, sponsorship and other revenue streams.