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Volume 25 No. 175
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Top French Soccer Official Talks Team Finances, Foreign Investments

French Professional Football League (LFP) CEO Didier Quillot talked about the latest Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 developments during a “20 Questions” segment with Victory Sports Marketing Founder Gordon Kane at this week’s SBJ Dealmakers in Sports conference in N.Y. Quillot covered everything from the league’s DNCG, which regulates French clubs’ finances and ensures transparency, to recent overseas investments by the likes of former Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt, who bought Marseille in ’16, and the recent takeover of Bordeaux by U.S. investment fund GACP. Because its clubs cost far less than those in the Premier League, Quillot called France “the place to be” for international buyers hoping to get involved in European soccer. He said that while a team toward the bottom of the Premier League table, such as Newcastle United, is worth a reported $350M, for that price, an investor could acquire a top-tier French club and have $200M left to invest. He said this has not gone unnoticed, and that two clubs located in well-known French cities are open to takeover talks.

APPEAL FACTOR: Asked why investors find French clubs appealing, Quillot cited the talent France is producing, among other reasons. He pointed out that of the five most expensive player transfers in the last two years, three involved French footballers: Paris St. Germain’s Kylian Mbappé, ManU’s Paul Pogba and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé. Other signs of the growing value of the LFP are the fact that attendance is improving leaguewide, ticket prices and sponsorship value are rising, and TV viewership figures are growing. All of those factors helped contribute to the landmark domestic TV rights deal the league signed in May for ’20-24. Mediapro acquired the majority of the rights in a deal worth US$1.31B per season, which marked a 60% increase on the league’s previous domestic agreement.

SALES PITCH: Asked what he would say to a potential suitor for a Ligue 1 club, Quillot mentioned that in the next six years, France will host the Women’s World Cup in ’19, the '23 Rugby World Cup, and the '24 Games. “Come with us,” he said. “France is a place to invest. On top of Ligue 1’s momentum, France as a country is really the next place to be.”