French clubs more than double TV income to €71m per season
Canal Plus to continue Top 14 coverage in five-year €355m deal
Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton in action for Racing Metro during the French Top 14 match against Brive in August. Photograph: Xavier Leoty/AFP/Getty Images
French Top 14 clubs will more than double their income from domestic TV rights after signing a new five-year deal with Canal Plus worth €355 million.
The new deal averages out at €71 million per season over the lifetime of the deal, up from the €32 million that the clubs will share this season.
The Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), who represent the French Top 14 clubs, were in negotiations with Canal Plus and beIn Sports, the Qatari-owned station that has in recent years outbid Canal Plus for rights to French league football and the Champions League.
In the end LNR decided to stay with Canal Plus and extend a deal that has run since the 1995.
The move will substantially add to the buying power of French clubs, who have aggressively targeted Irish players in recent times.
Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton joined Racing Metro this season, while Leinster and Ireland backrow forwards Jamie Heaslip and Seán O’Brien are in talks with Top 14 sides about lucrative moves to France in the summer.
“This new partnership, which is the most important agreement for club competition in world rugby, will allow the LNR Top 14 to continue the development of their exposure and strengthen the status of the Top 14 as the most attractive championship in the world,” read a statement from the league.
“This is obviously a great satisfaction to continue this partnership,” said Canal Plus director of rugby Eric Bayle. “It’s been 20 years that Canal Plus has developed together with the League, giving it unrivalled exposure.”