This Wednesday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m., two football worlds will meet on the lawn of the Stade Louis II. In red, Monaco, a rich club accustomed to the top of the table, owned by a Russian billionaire but without public or social anchoring. In green, Saint-Étienne historic and popular club, which has been approaching dangerously for two years the border of relegation in Ligue 2.
In a few days or at the latest a few weeks, Saint-Étienne and Monaco could however find a point in common, by finding themselves both members of the club of the teams of Ligue 1 in the hands of owners or foreign pension funds. Saint-Étienne could indeed join this less and less closed club, of which nine teams already belong.
On Tuesday 21, a wealthy Cambodian businessman, Norodom Ravichak, caused a stir by publicly confirming on RFI that he was not only a candidate for the takeover, but in a position to honor his commitments. “The profile is a bit atypical, but he looks serious, even if we would like to know more about his interest in a French club, analysis Florian Brejon deputy director of the News Tank football agency, information platform on the football economy. Having said that, thes investors from Southeast Asia, Thailand and Malaysia, are already present in Europe, particularly in England. “
About ten purchase offers
The man would have presented a bank guarantee of 100 million euros and a list of his partners to the Anglo-Dutch audit firm KPMG, in charge of the sale. This offer from a billionaire with the same famous first name as his grandfather, King Sihanouk, seems the most serious, but it is not the only one, since the club went on sale on April 13 . Nearly ten applications have been received, some fanciful, others suspicious, and the American investment fund Terrapin is to date Norodom Ravichak’s most serious competitor.
→ ANALYSIS. The supporters find the stands and impose themselves as guardians of the temple
Another fund from across the Atlantic, Peak 6, was close to completion in 2018, but one of the club’s two presidents, Roland Romeyer, was opposed. Originally from the region, this pure supporter accustomed to offering a miners’ lamp to all the players recruited to remind them of the city’s past, had derailed the affair because Peak 6 did not inspire him with confidence.
Since then, financial clouds have gathered over the club, between the withdrawal of the Catalan broadcaster Mediapro, which plagued the accounts of the professional football league, and the Covid which emptied the stadiums, particularly impacting clubs like Saint-Étienne , whose economy is largely based on ticketing. In two years, the accounts turned red and it was necessary to sell the best players to avoid financial bankruptcy, which quickly turned into sports bankruptcy.
The supporters are resigned
Paradoxically, the cessation of the championship in 2020 had saved the Greens from a probable relegation, because they had started a tumble that seemed to be unable to stop. Will they avoid it this year? Currently 19e of the championship, unable to recruit in the offseason, the Greens are very poorly rated by the International Center for Sports Studies. At the start of the week, he predicted the title for Paris SG, the dam for Brest and… the statistically probable relegation for Saint-Étienne.
Would a sale make the famous cauldron boil with anger? “The results are so bad that they exceed the public’s attachment to the jersey, the announcement of a sale of the club to foreigners will be a shock for some, but it will not last”, predicts sports historian and fan specialist Pascal Charroin, teacher at Jean-Monnet University in Saint-Étienne.
As for the nostalgia for the Greens who had ignited France in the 1970s, it is outdated. Running a competitive professional team is costing more and more. One of the two main stakeholders, the co-owner Bernard Caïazzo, did not say anything else in July 2021 on the site “Peuple vert.fr”, dedicated to the club: “We, Roland Romeyer and I, are affected by an age limit. We are forced to go through an inheritance process. This is the meaning of life, he explained. The greatest happiness that could happen to us is to have successors with much greater means than us. “