Clubs in France's Ligue 1 are set to suffer catastrophic combined losses of more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.57 billion) this season due to a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and the collapse of a record domestic broadcast deal, a source close to the French league (LFP) said on Wednesday.
Confirming earlier reports by sports daily L'Equipe, the source said clubs had been warned by the LFP as well as the DNCG -- French football's financial watchdog -- that combined losses for the 2020/21 campaign would reach an eye-watering total of 1.314 billion euros.
The 20 top-flight clubs are set to have combined costs for the season of almost three billion euros, a considerable chunk of which will be absorbed by the country's richest club Paris Saint-Germain.
However, with fans having been almost entirely shut out this season due to restrictions in place to battle the pandemic, the broadcast deal collapsing and the transfer market slumping, total income is expected to be little more than 1.6 billion euros.
The LFP will in the coming days put the majority of its domestic TV rights up for tender again after the disastrous collapse of the deal with the Chinese-owned group Mediapro.
The rights were sold to Mediapro for more than 800 million euros ($970 million) a year starting this season.
It was a record deal for football in France, but a missed payment due at the start of October precipitated two months of negotiations as Mediapro sought to reduce the amount it paid.
In December a court allowed the LFP to withdraw from the deal.
Meanwhile, the source said that losses of around 400 million euros are expected as a result of fans being locked out, while up to the same amount again is expected to be lost because of the depressed transfer market.
Many French clubs' business models are centred around their ability to sell on players to richer foreign outfits at a huge profit.
The depressing outlook may yet improve, if more sales are made in the final days of the January transfer window and at the end of the season, and depending on how much money is raised from a new broadcast deal.