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To cope with a very difficult season on the financial plan due to the Covid-9 crisis, the Parisian club is lucky to be able to count on the unwavering support of its owner. But he fears the coming months if the announced government assistance measures are not paid quickly.
The five letters PARIS have never had such an exhibition in the Jean Bouin stadium, located in the west of the capital. Painted on seats, they are usually hidden by spectators present in the gallery. But against Union Bègles Bordeaux (UBB), the Stade français Paris (SFP) once again played behind closed doors, Saturday, November 21, by winning a precious victory (28-16) which allows it to enter the first part of the Top14 ranking after the first nine days.
This meeting was initially scheduled to be played on September 4, the day the rugby championship resumed after a six-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 epidemic. But like all the other teams in the championship, the SFP is experiencing a 2020/2021 season punctuated by the postponements of matches, depending on the cases of contamination observed in the various squads. And he still has a match to catch up against Montpellier Héraut Rugby.
This very changing schedule logically complicates sports management and the preparation of players who are forced to redouble their vigilance to be able to continue playing. But it is on the financial level that the consequences of the health crisis are felt the most. Of the five games played at home this season, the Stade Français has only been able to welcome the public twice, with a tonnage of 1,000 people per game. Last season, it hosted an average of nearly 11,000 per game in its stadium with a capacity of 15,500.
“On the matches, we have suffered a loss of around 2.5 million euros since the start of the season,” suggests Thomas Lombard, general manager of Stade Français, including both ticketing and services. reception within the framework of sponsorship contracts. And the club also deplores the disappearance of income linked to the rental of certain spaces in its stadium which regularly host conferences or seminars.
An austerity plan to resist
The SFP, which has one of the largest budgets in the Top 14 – 36 million according to Thomas Lombard -, has for the fourth consecutive season the generous support of Hans Peter-Wild, a billionaire who acquired it in May 2017. ” We are lucky to have an owner who, for the moment, can compensate for the losses. But it is a model which does not make sense and which cannot last “, explains Thomas Lombard to France 24.
For him, “the situation is normal only the fact that we train and play the matches”. Because the SFP cannot count on its usual financial revenues and it finds itself forced to play the card of austerity. Savings were made to keep expenses as low as possible and the employees, starting with the players, agreed to pay cuts of around 20%. Measures which resulted in a Parisian budget down 4 million for the current season compared to the previous one.
The 30 professional clubs (Top 14 and Pro D2) each acted in the same way to reduce the wing. According to Emmanuel Eschalier, general manager of the National Rugby League (LNR), they have thus managed “to pass the first confinement course without too much damage. But the 2020/2021 season is much more complex to manage. The presence of the public is at the heart of the economic model of the clubs and the reduced gauges, then the camera, have shattered the situation “. And some are threatened with bankruptcy if they do not receive financial aid quickly. “The situation is very serious and it can become dramatic,” Emmanuel Eschalier told France 24.
All eyes are therefore on the executive who announced, Tuesday, November 17, the release of an envelope of 400 million euros for the benefit of the sports sector, a quarter of which will offset the losses in ticketing for male clubs. and women as well as the organizers of sporting events including federations. Rugby is waiting to know what exact amounts will be redistributed to clubs, hoping that down payments can be made by the end of November. And it will also benefit from another very important measure, the exemption from wage charges for the last quarter of 2020.
In the longer term, professional clubs of course hope that the evolution of the health situation will soon allow supporters to return to the stadiums, according to a system of gauge proportional to the capacity of their sports venues. Until then, they will continue to redouble their efforts to keep their heads above water. And athletic results can help them a lot in this fight. “We don’t have a lot of things to hang on to at the moment, except the victories which are doing everyone a lot of good,” said Thomas Lombard. And that obtained against UBB, the third in a row, will greatly contribute.