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Al Jazeera breaks into televised football


Some time ago I was quite surprised to be asked by Al Jazeera if I could come into their London studio to talk about football.   As it happened, I couldn't make it but perhaps I should have seen the straw in the wind.

The Qatari broadcaster has been awarded the majority of media rights to screen Uefa Champions League matches in France for three years from 2012 in a deal worth €180m.   This is a serious blow to French pay-TV operator Canal Plus.

Apparently Al Jazeera offered twice as much as Canal Plus was paying for the four packages which include the rights to televise 133 matches a season.   Al Jazeera is making a big push into the French football market, having recently trumped Canal Plus by agreeing to pay €90m a year for the rights to screen many of France's top domestic football matches from next year.

Earlier this year a Qatari fund fund linked to the Gulf State's royal family took a 70 per cent stake in Ligué 1 club Paris St-Germain.