If Gérard Lopez, 49, is now a well-known actor in the world of sport, his methods are not unanimous. At the origin of the Lille project which led the LOSC to the title of French football champion in May, the Spanish-Luxembourg businessman was ousted at the end of 2020 from the northern club, leaving him in a delicate financial situation. Today, he hopes to buy back the Girondins de Bordeaux and must, for this, convince the National Management Control Department (DNCG) of the viability of his project, Monday, July 12.
Since your stay in Lille, you have embodied in French football the “trading” of players, an economic model which is based on the purchase of promising young players in the hope of reselling them with large capital gains. This strategy has allowed LOSC to become champion of France, but is it viable in the long term?
The economic model of French clubs is not sustainable. TV rights, sponsorship and ticketing are not enough to balance a club’s expenses, so everyone trades players without saying it. The difference is that I say what I do and that I have industrialized the process. And I do that while being champion of France and qualifying Lille twice in three years for the Champions League, which annoys a lot of people. If I had taken over a small club and finished each season between tenth and eighteenth place, no one would criticize me.
Your trading activity did not allow Lille to repay the 225 million euros borrowed from the American fund Elliott, which took control of the club. LOSC debt remains high, close to 120 million. So is it a failure?
Not at all, my management was excellent! At the head of Lille, I invested 180 million euros in the workforce and achieved 340 million euros in sales. At the same time, I repaid 200 million euros. And, contrary to what the new management of LOSC asserts, the club has no bank debt and was not in default, since a plan was planned to cover all financial commitments, including under of the pandemic.
At the time of my departure, the only debt corresponded to investments in third parties (players, agents…), everything else was cleared. The club was in a much stronger position than when I arrived, with a workforce whose value, estimated at 330 million euros, is the second in France behind that of PSG [le site allemand TransferMarkt le place en quatrième position, derrière Paris, Monaco et Lyon]. In addition, part of the operational costs are covered thanks to the additional income generated by the good sporting results of Lille.
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