Stephane DOR has been Marketing and Media Director of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) since 2001. He is responsible for marketing and commercial development for LFP competitions, mainly League 1, and for France internationally and he manages the media strategy and broadcast rights for both.
BH: Stephane, can you describe the LFP?
SD: The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) is an association to which the French Football Federation has given the authority to organise and manage professional football in France. Its primary duty consists of arranging competitions among professional French clubs: the French League 1 and League 2 championships, the League Cup, and the Champions Trophy. However, LFP responsibilities also include all the actions that contribute to the economic success of the competitions that they organise and the clubs that take part. The net result is that, like all sports leagues, the LFP is responsible both for regulation of the sport--the organisation and management of competitions--and for economic regulation, from selling the audiovisual rights and marketing up to the sharing out of the revenue.
BH: What is your job with the league?
SD: As LFP Director of Marketing and Media I am responsible for the marketing and commercial development in the short and medium term of LFP products--its four competitions, both in France and internationally. The strategic policies are established by the LFP marketing committee, which I organise. It consists of a dozen club presidents and is chaired by Michel Seydoux [President of the football club Lille Olympique Sporting Club].
BH: What is the economic importance of French football?
SD: During the 2008-09 season the cumulative revenues of League 1 and League 2 clubs amounted to 1.276 billion euros, an increase of more than 5% over the previous year. Nevertheless, France ranks only fifth in Europe in economic terms, which is not enough if you want to be a winner in a sports competition. If we look at the various revenue items, we see that the sales figures conceal a mixed message. In fact, French football is very well positioned as regards audiovisual rights, but performs poorly in terms of income from stadiums and sponsorships.
Concerning ticket receipts, France suffers from the dilapidated condition of its stadiums, which has two consequences: lower overall attendance and an average ticket price that lags well behind those of its European neighbours. Hosting the Euro 2016 championship in France should be a shot in the arm for the ambitious programme already underway throughout the country, involving no fewer than fifteen cities.
French sponsorship is suffering from the negative effects of restrictive regulation and the insufficiently attractive opportunities currently on offer. Firstly, legislation continues to prohibit French football from forming profitable partnerships with firms in activity sectors with growth potential, such as beer or online sports betting, which is not the case for our neighbours. Secondly, what is being offered on the advertising market lacks clarity and is not enough to convince the big institutional firms to become massively and lastingly associated with our competitions and their participating clubs. But we are making progress in these two areas. Specifically, online betting is now authorised, together with--and this is a world first--recognition of the rights of the organisers to take bets. And this opening has enabled the LFP to form a two-season marketing partnership with the Frangaise des Jeux [the French national lottery] and has allowed certain clubs to obtain sponsorship agreements with other actors in this new area.
BH: The economic model is dominated by the television rights ...
SD: It is true that LFP economics are dominated by the income obtained from selling the audiovisual rights to its competitions, which generated revenues of about 700 million euros during the 2009-10 season. …