Catalans push forward for last-gasp TV deal

Catalans haven’t given up hope of a last-minute television deal to ensure Super League games are broadcast live from Perpignan in 2020.

Club chiefs are a hoping a commitment by Sky Sports to cover five matches at Stade Gilbert Brutus this season will encourage a French TV partner to come on board for the remaining league fixtures.

The decision by beIN Sports to cease coverage of Dragons games at the end of last season left the club seeking a new broadcast deal. Meetings have taken place in Paris and Barcelona with executives from several media organisations.

Negotiations are still taking place and Catalans officials are refusing to give up, even if no contract is signed before the season starts.

President Bernard Guasch told Perpignan’s L’Indépendant newspaper: “I hope that a solution will be found quickly. Maybe we’ll start the season without television coverage before the situation unblocks.

“The Viá network is interested and will give us an answer early next week, and we are still in discussions with Eurosport.”

A return to beIN Sports still hasn’t been written off, but the TV company has asked the Dragons to pay the production costs, which are around 18,000 euros per game.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have reported a 15 per cent increase in season-ticket sales for 2020 and the club is trying to establish whether this is due to no TV deal or is due to high-profile signings like former NRL star James Maloney.

“It’s probably a combination of both,” said a club spokesman.

“But it’s good news, so it’s very welcome. There is a strong sense of anticipation for Super League this year with Sonny Bill Williams and Toronto entering the competition.”

The Dragons were also boosted by the announcement from Leeds Rhinos that they expect around 2,000 supporters to travel to the double-header fixture at Toulouse on May 30th.
Catalans have decided to hold their home fixture against Leeds alongside the Championship match between Toulouse and London Broncos at the new home of their French neighbours, Stade Ernest Wallon.

The 19,000-seater city centre stadium will host the unique mini “Magique Weekend” fixtures in a bid to encourage new local support for Toulouse and club sources indicate they could be heading for a sell-out.