Faced with the crisis, Jaume Roures broke the silence. The boss of Mediapro has been in open conflict with the Professional Football League since his refusal to pay the October installment of Ligue 1 television rights (172 million euros). This Wednesday at the Pavillon Dauphine (Paris), the Catalan announced a “discussion process“with the LFP and tried, somehow, to reassure.”I came to say that Telefoot will continue“he said.
Up to five months of conciliation
“We found a discussion process with the League, explained Jaume Roures from the start. Private discussions that are not intended to be made public“and which will last”Several weeks“. The conciliation could go up to four months, with a possible extension of one month added the lawyer of Mediapro, present at the side of Roures.”We have time to find reasonable solutions“assured Roures. Thursday, October 15, the LFP put Mediapro on formal notice to obtain payment. The Sino-Spanish group turned to the Nanterre commercial court to mediate.”I hope the link is not irreparably broken“Roures added.
“You have to have confidence in the conciliation process, Roures said. I don’t see why we wouldn’t find solutions. The contract is for a period of four years. We have that will. The only thing we ask is to adapt to the situation for this season. I can’t believe we’re not gonna make it. Our requests relate to this season affected by Covid-19.“Asked about the next deadline in December, Roures kicked in.” Everything is on the table “replied the legal director of Mediapro, present at his side.
“We stand by this project”
On several occasions, Jaume Roures insisted on confidence in the Téléfoot project. “It was not a call for tenders (more than 800 million euros) overpaid, he estimated. It is a project in which we believe, even if we knew that it could not be profitable on the first day of the first day, with millions of subscribers, we had done our market studies, we knew very well the number of ‘real football subscribers among others. Our project was for four years. We maintain it. We knew it wouldn’t be profitable in the first year. We knew we wouldn’t have millions of subscribers from day one. We stand by this project.“
If the Catalan wants to negotiate, it is for this first year turned upside down by the Covid-19, not for the contract as a whole. “We could not predict the socio-economic effects of the Covid, he explained. This led us to see with the League how we could adapt to this situation without questioning at any time the commitment we made in April 2018. ” However, he remained unclear on what he expected in concrete terms. Lower drafts in the first year? Carryover to subsequent years?
600,000 subscribers for Téléfoot
Jaume Roures denied the figure of 275,000 subscribers mentioned in the press. “We have a lot more, and we have a development model“he assured, before advancing the figure of 600,000 subscribers.”All these figures consist in describing us as very weak and unable to keep our commitments, he got carried away. Mediapro is not three guys and a girl in a room. We have been around for 25 years. We are present in more than thirty countries. A turnover of several billion. We are not just anybody.“
And to criticize the many leaks in the press, which he also fed in an interview with L’Equipe, on October 8. “We don’t think all the noise around it benefits anyone he judged. Everyone is in more difficulty. For a fundraising it’s worse, to have subscribers it’s worse. ”
Wednesday morning, Capital unveiled the state of liquidity of the Mediapro group. According to an estimate by the rating agency Moody’s, the Sino-Spanish group has only 113 million euros in its coffers. Far from the 172 million expected in November by the LFP, even further from the additional 150 million expected in December. Jaume Roures declined to comment on Mediapro’s payment capacities, referring to the conciliation procedure with the LFP. “I am not saying that we do not have the possibility to pay but that we are in a process of adaptation to a crisis that affects everyone“he added in the face of multiple raises.
Chinese shareholder “supports the company”
A financial crisis seriously aggravated by the Covid-19, but whose signs were already there before, with debt present for several years. Losses in previous years, an overall drop in its audiovisual activity, but also income from rights much lower than expected. Negotiations with operators to broadcast Téléfoot turned into a fiasco according to Capital, Mediapro increasing its requests from 200 million euros to a few million.
There remains the Chinese shareholder, Orient Hontai Capital. If the company has the funds to deal with the situation, there is no indication that they will use them. The League obtained a joint guarantee, which commits the responsibility of OHC to pay the debts of Mediapro. But it may be difficult to enforce, with Chinese justice often recalcitrant. “Our Chinese shareholder, like all other shareholders, supports the company“Roures replied only.