PARIS: Qatar’s march towards a commanding role in French football has been maintained after broadcasting power Al-Jazeera bought two major domestic television packages writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
This followed the purchase last summer by the Qatar Investment Authority of Paris Saint-Germain and subsequent heavy spending on new players which has seen the club take over at the top of the league and sign leading Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti.
The French league (LFP) and Al-Jazeera have signed an agreement by which the channel will pay €240m over four years to screen Lot 6 (six lives matches per round) and Lot 9 (a midweek highlights programme).
To help the clubs resolve debt issues Al-Jazeera has agreed to pay €80m in each of the first two tranches of cash in 2012-13 and 2013-2014 with €40m in each of the two subsequent seasons.
Al-Jazeera had already bought up one two-game package and another has gone to the French Canal+. This means the LFP will rake in a total of €590m for TV rights plus €20m for mobile rights with Orange.
The total of €610m represents a slight drop from the current domestic-operator-dominated €668m but is considered by LFP president Frederic Thiriez as more than satisfactory in the current economic climate.
Qatar has an excellent relationship with the French political and sporting establishments. UEFA’s French president, Michel Platini, has confirmed that he voted in favour of FIFA awarding the 2022 World Cup host rights to the Gulf state. His son Laurent has recently joined the PSG administrative staff.
The Al-Jazeera deal was signed and sealed on the same day Sports Minister David Douillet said that, considering the huge sums French clubs generated through TV rights, there should be no need for the state to subsidise stadia work ahead of the country’s hosting of the 2016 European Championship finals.