How are you feeling today?
I am both surprised and disappointed. The first thing I say to myself is how did we fall so low in sport? It should have been possible to win the game during the season, or the two games that would have allowed staying in Ligue 1. Recruitment was not of the expected level of quality, but there were fewer cadres than ours. If I believe the media, the sporting leadership of the group left a lot to be desired. But I didn’t expect this team to hold out with so few points. After that follows a very complicated financial situation with losses, debts and irresponsible financial management in recent years.
As director, what information did you have on the current financial situation?
Gerard Lopez was transparent. We knew the numbers, we knew this season was going to be complicated. The budget was created with a ranking (8th, editor’s note) far removed from the final one. But he seemed quite sure about the solutions proposed to the DNCG Appeals Committee. The plan seemed right. The missing 14 million euros for the remaining amount could be raised by the creditors if the information is good (Fortress, editor’s note). It was a line of credit but it’s realistic to say we can find €14m transferred to the workforce not in the current uncertainty but from the moment the club would have been confirmed in L2. In retrospect, would that have been enough to improve the situation for the following season? I don’t know about the spiral. When I was on assignment, we weren’t used to such difficulties. There is an incredible drift. The GACP’s share of the responsibility is enormous. Mr. Lopez may have been optimistic, thinking he could restore the situation.
The structural deficit noted under M6 from 2011 appears to be the start of the downturn. Is there a responsibility?
Even now, if M6 had been more respected, they might still be around today. They were the subject of constant criticism: if the club was in 5th or 6th place, it was considered insufficient. When we won a League Cup, we downgraded the value of the competition. The deficit at the time of M6 was 6-7 million euros. The transfer of a player would have been enough. Instead of weakening the team, the shareholder has often preferred to provide money to fill the gap.
Was M6 too negligent when selling it to GACP?
Were there any elements that should warn them? I don’t know, I was no longer in office. The buyer introduced himself. He fulfilled his financial obligations, nothing justified suspicion. Experience shows that GACP was not credible. But what is also surprising is that they have been trusted by major mutual funds such as King Street and Fortress.
Last season, after owner King Street exited, the option of a takeover through receivership was on the table. Did you push in this direction with Jean-Didier Lange (former chairman from 1991 to 1999 and director who died in November 2021)?
The association and the Professional Football League had said that, exceptionally, due to the Covid, a transition to recovery would not be sanctioned with a downgrade. Discussing this with Jean-Didier, we said this was an opportunity to update the accounts while staying in Ligue 1. It was said that ultimately this measure could not apply because another stressed that it was necessary to maintain the balance between the two clubs. I found it odd that the LFP reversed a decision that they had made themselves. And where is the fairness when we are talking about Paris SG with a state shareholder and Monaco with its tax advantages? We said to ourselves that it is worth confronting the authorities with their contradictions. But potential buyers felt it was too risky and thought they could manage the financial situation and balance the term accounts.
Have you had Gérard Lopez on the phone since the decision?
Do you still have hope with the remaining appeals (CNOSF, Administrative Court)?
I don’t know the reasons for the DNCG’s decision. I think that the FFF’s DNCG is a reputable structure, is not a clearing house and their justifications will be admissible. I wouldn’t understand that we can easily make a club like ours disappear by laying off several dozen employees. Why reject a project that at least made the start of the season possible? What Mr. Lopez presented to us seemed feasible. From now on, the deadlines are very short.
Can you imagine the club leaving National 3?
No, I can’t assimilate it and project myself into it… I never imagined it could come to this. Once again I am surprised by the file presented to us. It’s happened to others but it’s complicated and lengthy and likely to get more complicated with the forthcoming tightening of L1 and L2 to 18 clubs.
If the club were rebuilt from the N3, would you be willing to get involved?