French soccer considers financial controls as losses of top clubs swell
The clubs in French soccer’s top two leagues ran up combined losses of €176.3 million ($199.3 million) in the 2017-18 season, which has prompted moves to introduce greater financial controls in the domestic game.
The figure was announced on Wednesday in the annual report of the DNCG, the body responsible for monitoring the accounts of professional soccer in France, and represents a 74-per-cent increase on the previous year.
Losses soared despite the combined turnover (including player transfers) of the 40 clubs in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 rising by 31 per cent to €2.84 billion, while there was an overall operating profit of €161 million as against a loss of €31.8 million in 2016-17.
The DNCG pointed out that 15 of the 20 Ligue 1 clubs were in the black last season, but there was still a significant deficit because of the negative results of the likes of Lille (-€141.9 million), Marseille (-€78.6 million) and Bordeaux (-€21.1 million).
League champions Paris Saint-Germain posted the largest profit (€31.5 million).
The overall growth in revenues in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in 2017-18 is largely explained by player sales, which amounted to €929 million, triple that of the previous season.
The report stated: “The economic model continues to depend on the ability of clubs to sell players regularly.”
In light of the findings, the board of directors of the LFP, the French professional league, yesterday vowed to explore a recommendation from the DNCG to introduce new financial controls.
The league is looking at two proposals: one linking total payroll to turnover excluding transfers; and the other a debt to equity ratio.
Didier Quillot, the chief executive of the LFP, said that a working group including representatives from the DNCG and the clubs would be established to consider the options with conclusions to be made in the second half of 2019, and with a view to implementation in the 2020-21 season.
Jean-Marc Mickeler, the president of the DNCG, said that with record turnover and capital gains on transfers the French clubs are “at the top of a wave [but] you have to prepare for a future that could be more complicated.”
He said that “there are very good things” in the Uefa financial fair play rules including “the use of preventative ratios,” and that it might be necessary in France to have “a more binding system for clubs” to ensure “more discipline and coherence.”