A harsh winter for two great monuments of French football, Saint-Étienne and Bordeaux. Cumulating 37 national titles between them and great European times, the Greens and the Navy Blue occupy the last two places in the French championship. If the cause seems almost heard for the Stéphanois, almost in Ligue 2 and waiting for a new owner, the case is not very well underway either for the Girondins.
They had a nightmare last weekend, crushed 6-0 by the Rennais, who could have scored more on the boulevards left by the worst defense of the moment, with 50 goals conceded since the start of the season. This nightmare, Defender Enock Kwateng’s statement to Prime Video spoke volumes about the Marines’ state of mind: “If we continue like this, we are going straight to Ligue 2.” The diagnosis is lucid in view of the forecasts of Opta, the company specializing in statistics: since the return of the championship to 20 clubs, twenty years ago, 22 of the 27 teams with such results at this stage have been relegated. A prospect that should not have pleased the deputy director of the club. ” For the Girondins, there is no model, no life in Ligue 2. The income that we get there from TV rights does not allow the club to survive there., he assured during a conference announcing another bad news: the breach of the contract between the club and its jersey sponsor.
The evil is old, because the people of Bordeaux have been living with a knife to their throat for years. They have been running since 2009 behind their last title of champion of France, with Laurent Blanc in charge. And have never recovered from their sale in 2018 by the M6 group to an American pension fund, King Street, more concerned with promoting the Bordeaux brand than the Girondins jersey. American financiers have multiplied the blunders, transforming the historic name Girondins de Bordeaux into Bordeaux Girondins, which they believe is more readable for foreign customers. Then they embarked on a costly and ineffective waltz of player and manager transfers. After losing the support of the Ultramarines, the main group of supporters, and Alain Juppé, King Street ended up throwing in the towel in April 2021, withdrawing its financial guarantee to the club and placing it under the de facto protection of the court of commerce and under the threat, therefore, of an administrative relegation to the fifth division (National 3). This sanction was pronounced at the beginning of July by the financial policeman of professional football (National Management Control Department), but with a suspensive clause in the event of the takeover of the club and its debts.
The savior was the former president of Lille, the Hispano-Luxembourg financier Gérard Lopez, who bought the club in King Street and hired Vladimir Petkovic, the coach who eliminated France at the Euro when he led the Swiss selection. But the magic potion, which initially worked, then lost its effects. After a decent start to the season, the Navy lost their footing, little helped by injuries and a few mistakes by their captain and former player of the France team, Laurent Koscielny. The defender, along with six of his comrades, was withdrawn last week from the professional group, with automatic placement on the transfer list to be completed by the end of the winter transfer window (January 31). One ” punch “ in the words of the person concerned, little appreciated by the players’ union, who protested against the methods of President Lopez.
He defended himself by highlighting a need for cash in view of the size of the budget deficit, estimated according to the newspaper South West at 60 million euros for the season. Especially since another essential partner of the club is showing impatience: Pierre Hurmic, the environmental mayor elected in 2020, multiplies the red cards concerning the Matmut Atlantique stadium, where the Girondins play. The enclosure is managed by a private company which does not pay the rents expected by the municipality, and the elected representative wishes to sell it to the club, which is not able to buy it. One more headache for Gérard Lopez, who could find himself faced with a new dilemma on Sunday evening 23 in the event of a defeat at home against a Strasbourg in great shape: whether or not to keep his coach, whose salary, estimated at €250,000 per month weighs heavily in the balance. Additional bad news, international goalkeeper Benoît Costil, one of the few to hold his rank, was seriously injured on Wednesday 19 in training.