PSG's Al-Khelaifi in firing line as French clubs battle for TV revenue
AFP, Paris :
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) president Nasser al-Khelaifi has been accused of becoming embroiled in a conflict of interest in a dispute over television payments to French football clubs facing a financial crisis in the coronavirus pandemic.
Al-Khelaifi, 46, is the public face of the Qatari ownership of PSG which has transformed them into one of Europe's most powerful clubs.
He is also the head of BeIN Media Group, who as one of the chief broadcasters of France's Ligue 1 have withheld the latest payment due to clubs because of the ongoing suspension of the season. Canal Plus, who pay the most for broadcast rights, have done the same.
Despite that, Al-Khelaifi has been mandated by the French league (LFP) along with three other club presidents to lead negotiations with Canal Plus in an attempt to convince them to pay up.
The president of the company who have bought the rights to show Ligue 1 games from next season blasted Al-Khelaifi in an interview published on Thursday.
"I don't understand how Nasser can be leading a negotiation when he is an interested party," Jaume Roures of the Spanish group Mediapro told sports daily L'Equipe.
"It is incomprehensible. The attitude of Canal Plus and beIN towards the league is also Nasser's attitude. He is not a third party who has come out of nowhere."
BeIN held back paying an instalment of 42 million euros to the LFP for the rights to broadcast games. That was after Canal Plus said they would not pay 110 million euros ($121 million) due this month.
The money due from Canal Plus represents 15 percent of the total broadcast money for the season in Ligue 1, and includes 43 million euros due for matches shown before the campaign was suspended on March 13.
Mediapro, which is Chinese-owned, bought up the bulk of the domestic rights to Ligue 1 for four years starting next season. The total deal is worth a record 1.15 billion euros a year, with beIN paying a minority of that amount.
Viewers wishing to watch beIN Sports will need a Canal Plus subscription. Roures called it a "strategic alliance" between the two companies.
The crisis is very real for the clubs, who are left wondering what will happen if the season does not resume.
Payments from television amounted to 36 percent of total revenue for Ligue 1 teams last season, by far their biggest source of income.