Marseille coach Villas-Boas criticizes broadcaster Mediapro

MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Marseille coach André Villas-Boas has criticized broadcaster Mediapro over missing payments in its lucrative television deal, saying he fears it will put French clubs in serious financial peril.

The French league has refused a request from Mediapro to delay installments just months into a four-year contract worth 780 million euros ($917 million) per season for top-flight games.

Spain-based Mediapro is due to pay a reported 172 million euros ($202 million) this month.

“I've never seen that in my life," Villas-Boas said Thursday during a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home game against Bordeaux. “A guy (Mediapro CEO Jaume Roures) who presents himself as the big savior of French football and now he doesn't have the money to pay the contract. It's absurd.”

Villas-Boas said the deal was badly handled without the required bank guarantees as a safety net.

“I can also dream of having a house in Beverly Hills worth 20 million euros. But I can't afford it, so I won't make an offer," he said. "It's the same thing: if you don't have the money, you don't take part in an auction for broadcasting rights for the French league. It's a scandal.”

The Portuguese coach is worried French clubs could face bankruptcy from not receiving the TV money they were supposed to, with clubs already badly impacted from having very few fans at matches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don't know how we're going to get out of this,” the former Tottenham and Chelsea coach Villas-Boas said. “We trust the league and the clubs to find the best solution.”

The Mediapro contract, which is on the subscription service Téléfoot, is also worth 34 million euros for the French second division.

The European Club Association revealed last month its members lost prize money from the Champions League and Europa League last season because UEFA was paying back broadcasters 575 million euros.

Schedules were disrupted during the soccer shutdown that started in March, and UEFA’s competitions were completed in August with fewer games in the knockout rounds.

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