Why Banning Night Games will be a nightmare for the Football League

Sport 8 August, 2022

On July 26, 2022, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera announced that as part of a «plan to adapt sports practices to climate change», the government may ban the organization of sports events at night, starting this winter. Such a measure, a few months before the next announcement of tenders for the broadcast rights of League 1 and 2, could destroy all the forecasts for the development of television rights provided for by the Professional Football League (LFP).

Over the past twenty years, the main driving force behind the development of television rights to football has been the division of each day of the championship (or Champions League) into many time intervals. For Ligue 1, there are now 7 time slots that are split between Friday night and Sunday. This multiplication of tranches makes it possible to increase the number of lots during bidding and, consequently, increase income from audiovisual rights. The ban on night matches will mean the exclusion of the top 3 slots (Friday, 21:00, Saturday, 21:00 and Sunday, 20:45), in other words, a disaster for the marketing of Ligue 1 broadcasts.

The only «positive» aspect of such a measure would be an increase in the number of matches at 13:00 or 15:00, which, if not satisfying the fans, would improve the visibility of our «Talent League» in Asia. However, the fans have just found a new reason (quite acceptable) to declare the end of the matches at 13:00: the meeting of «Toulouse» and «Nice» on Sunday, August 7, 2022, took place at 35 °C despite the health of the players and spectators!

In addition to the difficulties caused by the abnormal heat, a big bet on the «international development of League 1» (which should allow for a significant increase in international audiovisual rights) may face a cooling of economic and diplomatic relations with China. (The first goal of LFP leaders).

Since Maxim Saada, the boss of Canal+, hinted that his channel would not remain indifferent to the announcement of tenders for the rights to broadcast Ligue 1 in 2023, smiles have returned to the faces of LFP executives. The ban on night matches may cast doubt on this optimism, since Canal+, itself affected by the broadcasts of Champions League matches, will think twice before eagerly interrupting bets. If we add the destructive effect that the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which would be favorable for the European Super League (ESL), could have on the value of the television rights of national leagues, it is possible that a favorable time sequence (associated with the acquisition of CVC’s stake in the commercial company LFP) it’s coming to an end.

Of course, there will undoubtedly be taken into account the voices demanding an exception to the rule prohibiting night games, in the interests of professional leagues. But it’s not a fact that a citizen invited to lower the temperature of the house and turn off the Wi-Fi will taste these new privileges.