Labrune takes on LFP international rights role after Caselli’s exit
By Martin Ross
The LFP, French soccer’s professional league, has appointed David Labrune, senior sports acquisitions and sales manager at pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus, to the role of head of international rights.
The arrival of Labrune, who also counts the French Tennis Federation and Lagardère among his previous employers, comes after Gaël Caselli, the LFP’s head of international development, left the league at the end of last year.
Caselli remains in Paris after taking up a position at Anschutz Entertainment Group, the international sports and entertainment company.
Labrune, who left Canal Plus at the end of last week, has assumed Caselli’s role in helping to distribute media rights to the French top flight internationally, managing the league’s relationship with BeIN Media Group, the international pay-TV broadcaster that holds the LFP’s media rights worldwide.
However, responsibility for planning and delivering the season-opening Trophée des Champions will be taken on by the LFP’s marketing department.
Caselli, a former media rights sales executive at Sportfive, was with the LFP for four and a half years, helping to boost Ligue 1’s presence globally and enhancing its brand.
Labrune spent over four years at Canal Plus, working beneath Pierre Lelong, who headed up the broadcaster’s rights acquisitions and sales.
Labrune joined the French Tennis Federation at the start of 2013 as international television rights co-ordinator, following a spell as senior strategy and development research analyst at Lagardère Unlimited, the sports and entertainment arm of Lagardère.
He joined Lagardère Unlimited in 2009.
Last year, the LFP appointed Olivier Jaubert, a long-standing sponsorship and merchandising executive at sportswear giant Nike, as commercial and marketing director. As part of that commercial rejig, Mathieu Ficot, the LFP’s director of economic development, took up the new role of director of media rights, production and international.
BeIN recently began its international rights sales process for Ligue 1 rights from 2018-19 to 2023-24, sealing a six-year agreement in sub-Saharan Africa with Canal Plus Afrique, the French-language subscription broadcaster, and Kwesé Sports, the Econet Media-owned pay-TV broadcaster.
The total value of the Ligue 1 rights in the sub-Saharan region is understood to have come close to tripling, rising from the current figure of €12 million ($14.6 million) per year to around €35 million per year, amid stiff competition for the English-language rights.
BeIN pays €80 million per year for the league’s international rights (from 2018-19 to 2023-24), but the LFP could derive more from the forthcoming cycle, given that its contract does include a revenue-share agreement, but only once a certain percentage over and above the minimum guarantee has gone to BeIN.
The pay-TV broadcaster's international rights agreement with the LFP represented a huge 146-per-cent increase on the average of €32.5 million per season paid by the broadcaster under its previous deal.
The contract was widely praised at the time of its announcement in the middle of 2014, but Ligue 1's international rights income has since been dwarfed by the sums accrued by the other ‘big four’ European leagues, in part because of inflated spending in China (which is now receding given government curbs), and the LFP has already unveiled plans to close the gap on its rivals, while considering new kick-off times to appeal to viewers in Asia and the Americas.