How lockdown threatens to burst French football's speculative financial bubble


The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP), which runs the top-tier professional football leagues in France, has voted to obtain a 224.5 million-euro loan from the French state to help out its member clubs, especially those in the elite Ligue 1 division. But even despite this help some clubs are on the brink of going into administration. Mediapart can reveal confidential documents which show the risky nature of the loan arrangement, which the state agreed to without making any solvency checks. As Laurent Mauduit writes, there is a risk that French taxpayers could end up having to pay the bill for the excesses of the football industry.

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Confidential documents seen by Mediapart highlight the financial plight of some of France's top-flight professional football clubs as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. In particular, clubs in the top echelons of the French game, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, have felt the full effects of the abrupt end of the 2019-2020 season on March 13th because of the virus.

The shutdown meant a halt to televised rights payments from broadcasters Canal+ and beIN Sports, a loss of turnstile revenue, a collapse in sponsorship deals and a major reduction in the number of transfer deals. But while these income sources dried up the clubs' outgoings, and in particular the huge wage bill of their players, have remained, plunging clubs into unprecedented financial problems.