By Robert Briel
Published: September 6, 2010 08.20 Europe/London

Orange will no longer bid for the live football rights of the French Ligue 1, according to local reports. The decision could jeopardise the financing of the French professional football clubs.

According to Le Figaro, Orange will abandon its premium sports channel Orange Sport and no longer bid for the rights to games in the LFP. At the moment, the premium TV operator pays 203 million for the exclusive rights to a number of the Ligue 1 games, also including mobile TV rights. Orange might want to continue the contract for mobile usage.

Canal+ holds the rights to the majority of the Ligue 1 games and currently pays 465 million annually for those rights. However, the Canal+ Group has said it is not willing to pay more than that amount for all of the Ligue 1 games. Both contracts run out with the 2011-2012 season.

For the current contracts, the French football clubs profited from the competing bids from the two pay TV operators, but with only Canal+left as the sole interested part, the income of the live TV rights could be disappointing. At the moment, the financial state of the French clubs is already fragile, with a deficit totaling 180 million.