La Croix: Following the final cessation of the professional football season, it was thought that the cacophony of leaders would finally die out. However, several club presidents are considering legal remedies …
Christophe Bouchet: Three-quarters of Ligue 1 and 2 league games have been played, so the decision to stop the standings at the start of lockdown makes sense. I can understand that some club presidents, deprived of the European Cup or relegated to the lower division when they still had a chance to do better, are furious. But sport is also that, we lose a match on a missed penalty, a storm or square posts.
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In times of crisis, there can be no perfect decision, there were only bad solutions. The one that was chosen is probably the least bad. The amazing thing is that these club presidents, who are for the most part reasonable and intelligent business leaders in everyday life, go nuts when it comes to football. But they are not the main culprits.
These main officials, who are they?
C. B. : Professional players of course, and their representatives, unions and agents. It took weeks to come to an agreement whereby the highest paid players agreed to carry over part of their pay over the next few seasons.
To my knowledge, this agreement has not entered into force. I didn’t see any of them stand up to say: “Good guys, in an exceptional situation, exceptional reaction, we draw a line”. It was not the sea to drink. We did not hear the big current players, nor the old big ones.
For example Didier Deschamps could have set an example. But all those guys who give lessons in generosity on social media and serve as role models for our young people have said nothing. For all the kids, for my 15 year old son who loves soccer and spends his time on Twitter and Instagram, that would have been an amazing sign. But no, flat encephalogram!
A little hard to blame the players alone, right?
C. B. : I am not saying that they are the only ones at fault, I am saying that they are the first in order of economic importance, because the payroll represents the bulk of club expenses. But they are not the only ones. It is incredible that professional clubs, companies generating millions in turnover, do not have cash reserves. It is a state of affairs, wanted, assumed, by this universe of spoiled children.
An anecdote: in 2004, when I negotiated the television rights with Canal +, we had obtained 100 million euros more than expected. I offered to stock up and was insulted on the grounds that in football, “money” is meant to be spent. This is all the more unacceptable as football revenues are known from one year to the next and guaranteed at 85-90%.
Under these conditions, do you find it normal that the State has come to the aid of the clubs?
C. B. : Yes and no. On the one hand, football clubs are businesses like any other, which contribute to the state budget through employer contributions and taxes paid. It is therefore normal that in the event of a crisis, these companies benefit from the same aid as the others.
Partial unemployment paid for administrative employees, for example, seems to me to be quite justified. For the players, I will not go back to it, I think that from a certain salary level, they should simply have given it away.