Mammoth new TV deal for French clubs

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The LNR have today announced a new TV deal with French host broadcaster Canal+, believed to be worth a total of €355 million over five years.

The league will receive €70 million for the first two seasons, €71 million in 2016/17 and €72 million for the final two years of the partnership.

The rights had been put out to tender, and there was rumoured to be major interest from Qatari network beIN Sport (who are involved in a similar way in French football), but in the end the LNR chose to stick with Canal+, who currently provide their coverage.

An LNR statement read: “This new partnership, which is the biggest for club rugby in the world, will allow the Top 14 to continue to develop it’s exposure and strengthen the status of the Top 14 as the most attractive league in the world.”

To put it into perspective, the four year deal that Premiership Rugby signed with BT Sport in 2012 to start at the beginning of this season is worth £152 million.

The new average of €71 million per season is quite an increase on the current deal, which currently sees them pocket €31.7 million. This new deal is only likely to help the top clubs with their ambitious recruitment policies of the world’s top talent, although the new home-grown rules coming into place next season will hopefully mean things don’t get out of hand.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

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18 comments on “Mammoth new TV deal for French clubs

  1. Bad news for the Welsh, and potentially the Irish too.

    As long as SL maintains his policy of not picking French based players, we should be ok. The problems will arise in England if one of our best players (ie. Tuilagi, Corbs) decides to go over their in their peak. Will SL pick them?

    Hopefully it will not become an issue, as it is vital that we keep out domestic league as strong as possible

  2. “As long as SL maintains his policy of not picking French based players, we should be ok” – couldn’t disagree more.

    Sexton is on 2/3rds of a million a year with the current money in French rugby. So with crude maths let’s assume they can now afford to pay him 1.5mil a year.

    You’re Manu Tuilagi – you can go to France and earn 1.5mil a year or stay with Leics, earn 500/600K a year and play for England. Adding a few 100K a year for perhaps better rest periods, England payments, etc, you’re still looking at the top talent possibly losing out to 1/2million a year by not going to France. When that was 100K (the sort of differences now) then wanting to play for your country goes a long way. When it’s 500K I think your national pride starts to take a bit of a dent.

    • Also, add in that if you do go to the right Top 14 side you play in front of mammoth crowds every weekend, in do-or-die tribal matches with a chance of real European silverware.

      Pros of staying at home:
      Play for England
      More rest
      You stay at your home (I wouldn’t underestimate this) and/or the club you love that developed you.

      Pros of going to Toulon:
      +500K a year <- I mean, for me, this is as far as I'd need to go. 500K is big enough to trounce any "it's not all about the money" work/life balance qualms I might have. I'd only need to do it for 2/3 years.
      European cup potential winners
      Better weather
      Rugby is a huge sport in France
      The chance to experience a diff way of life

      Hmmm…..

      • “Also, add in that if you do go to the right Top 14 side you play in front of mammoth crowds every weekend, in do-or-die tribal matches with a chance of real European silverware.”

        …. Or you go to Racing and have your stadium matches cancelled and get booed off the pitch ….

        • Yep, that’s why I said “the right” side. Racing are a good (or bad, depending on example) of how spending the money can go so horribly wrong. Still, Lyds is earning ~500K a year while cooling his heels so I won’t feel too sorry for him.

      • If you go to Toulon you also:
        – Get to play in an all-star Baa Baas team each week.
        – Prolong your playing career, although the season is long the Toulon squad is so deep they seem to rotate very effectively. Look at how injury prone guys like Jonny and Sheridan have managed to get several more playing years than they may have managed in the UK.

    • I think post 2015 this could be a big issue. The guys currently in line to play at the World Cup won’t be going anywhere before then, but afterwards – especially if they do well – they might be more tempted. Certainly those who won’t be able to make it until 2019 will think ‘why not’?

      • That’s a good point, highlighted by the Toby devs. Cockerill all but said he basically wanted SL to guarantee his 10 place for England or he knew Toby would leave. So problem 1 – if your club can only keep its best players if they play for England then suddenly you have a massively increased interest and effect from SLs selections. Also bear in mind we are talking about Leics – if they can’t keep their players from France purely based on playing for Leics, then nobody can.

        As soon as Toby indicates he’s gone SL decides it’s pointless to only pick him in the short term. Problem 2 – how long do you, as SL, give a player time to commit to his club before you pick him in your squads? So it’s a bit chicken and egg?

    • The countries with home based selection policies (e.g. NZ, Aus and England) are managing to retain more talent in-country than those that don’t.

      It doesn’t mean they are immune to the problem, but it is stemming the flood gates and the only thing doing so.

      Sure this is going to drive wage inflation further (is it Top 14 only or for both professional leagues does anyone know?) and we may well see more players call ‘time’ on their international careers earlier than otherwise would have done to go and collect their pension (e.g. Flood).

      The really big spenders don’t seem to be reliant on their income currently though and if all the extra income went only players their wage bills would only be going up ~10%. It’s the low/mid clubs that will benefit the most.

      • That’s my point though Matt – it’s stemming the flood waters at current salary levels. The French clubs just doubled their TV money. I think the dam will now break.

        • Does giving Toulon an extra £2m or so make that much difference? If they spend it all on say 2 additional players the rest of the squad are going to be looking at their contracts and asking for a rise.

          I think it’s the late 20s, won’t make 2019 type internationals where we will see an exodus post 2015 along with those coming up just short. It’s not a good situation as it will remove quality players from the premiership, but I don’t think it will be catastrophic in the medium term.

          In the longer term, if LNR do drive up the number of France eligable/home grown players then I’m worried. The competition for the top foreign talent to fill fewer available spaces will be fierce, there will be less demand for the nearly men and vast sums for the global superstars. Then I think it the dam breaks.

          This is one of the main reasons I’m so pi**ed over the Euro farce. The whole 3×20 concept, taking it to new markets and leagues selling the rights (for more money) seemed the only way of generating more income for all to at least reduce the imbalance.

    • I think we are agreeing Brighty, so I’m not sure what you are disagreeing with.

      Whilst I understand the money difference may be huge, it will be stemmed by not playing for England at all. And that’s what I mean by SL sticking to his guns on selection.

      I can not see England starters leaving, and if they do, we will have to make do, if we start selecting them, the floodgates will open.

      I think the players more likely to leave will be the fringe players, that interest the big French clubs but aren’t necessarily England regulars. I.e. the Toby Floods of the world. I think a lot more of these standard of players will leave, and sooner rather than later. Also, the older players that may not be involved in the next world cup will probably leave too.

      I would be surprised if first choice England players started leaving, but hey, maybe I’m being far too patriotic and there will be players disagreeing with me!

  3. With the French sweeping up such huge TV rights there has to be some similar interest being sparked in the UK. If that happens the Pro12 will become a second-tier competition, unable to keep its stars at home, unable to keep interest high for spectators.

    What are the chances of the Pro competitions federalising? England and France both have two professional leagues stacked high with squads – the Pro12 nations between them only have half that number. Could we see the Pro12 fall away with their professional sides joining the English/French league systems? Exactly as the Welsh regions are threatening to do now?

    I’m spitballing and could be wildly off the mark but personally I’d be delighted if this came to pass. We’d see TV deals for all European sides up, renewed interest in matches with international touring sides and a real relegation/promotion challenge all round which the Pro12 currently lacks.

  4. Now that the French Federation and clubs are working towards limiting the number of non french qualified players in squads the effect of this needn’t be as awful as some people think. With only say 150 places for foreign players in the top 14 and 10 countries to recruit from, of course there will be wage inflation but it’s likely to mean more money for the same small group of stars rather than many more moving to France. It really doesnt matter if people like Sexton suddenly earn double, once they are gone they are gone be it for £1 or £1million.

    Demographics and the profile of the game mean that each country will be effected differently and will need to find their own solution. England may have a big enough player base and TV market to sustain a non selection of overseas based players policy . The smaller countries clearly will not and may have to structure and plan for many of the national team to be based outside the country. It’s worth asking if stars moving away actualy has a significant effect on attendances and interest in the domestic game, I’m far from convinced that it does.

    Nor do I agree that English clubs having a competitive disadvantage against french clubs is a major issue. Playing against a team of expensive international galacticos is not comparing like with like so why worry, it’s just a fact of life. As a supporter of a club without stars it’s a similar position to HK games against Celtic teams stuffed with internationals, it doesnt mean the games are without interest and entertainment value. I guess we just need to stay calm and carry on!

    • Restricting number of foreign players will limit impact from a premiership perspective, there will be fewer jobs available for English players, so more will play in England. From a national perspective it does worry me though, it means more money to spend on fewer players and it will be top class internationals only that are recruited. Then I think we will start to see some first choice internationals move (and the younger ones to).

      Further down the line it’s not inconceivable that top age group talent will be recruited into French academies on lucrative scholarships so that they count as home grown.

      • I don’t think the rich french clubs are interested in developing talent, even their own, they want to buy players who’ve been there got the T-shirt and proved their worth so the age group players are safe. They may recruit the occasional top class international but we lose players through injury all the time. This is no different. As long as we have a healthy pipeline the game will still thrive at international level. Look how excited people are at the young guys coming in in place of our current crop of injuries.

        It may be different for Wales, they may need to build a strategy of selecting ex pat players like Scotland.

  5. This is a reality slap for a situation that already exists.

    Wales had the same policy as SL a few years back but as the exodus continues England will go the way of the other nations. You cannot expect players to say no to 1m per year to play for their country, you or I wouldn’t.

    English clubs have to increase their revenue, which they are trying to do. The anglo-welsh cup could be a way to go. The Welsh clubs will bring more revenue and a possibility of better tv contracts. But we al know where all that stands.

  6. I would imagine there a number of uncapped players out there who will be looking at how they can become French qualified ASAP :-)