Stade Francais secure top flight status
June 27, 2011
Stade Francais president Max Guazzini arrives at the Centre National de Rugby for his club's hearing © Getty Images
Stade Francais can look forward to at least another season of Top 14 rugby after successfully assuring financial watchdogs that they have the resources to fund the team.
The Paris-based club faced bankruptcy and relegation to the French national leagues if they could not convince Direction Nationale d'Aide de Contrôle de Gestion (DNACG) at a meeting earlier today that they had the reported €13m (£11.6m) required to cover their debts and fund their immediate financial future. But thanks to a significant investment from French businessman Jean-Pierre Savare, chairman of technology company Oberthur, the club's top flight status has been secured.
Savare's 43-year-old son Thomas, chief executive of Oberthur, is now set to take over the presidency of the club with Guazzini, who has been in charge since 1992, stepping aside to become honorary president. "I would like to thank Max who allowed this investment to happen. It was made in adversity but I believe that we have saved a great club," Thomas Savare told reporters. "It is a private investment, an investment of passion. I am a supporter. And I think it is inconceivable that Stade should disappear. It is a wonderful adventure and I am thrilled."
The club won numerous French titles at the turn of the 20th Century but had languished in the lower leagues for decades when Guazzini bought the club and set about restoring its reputation. They were soon back in the top division and went on to claim the Bouclier de Brennus five times in ten seasons between 1998 and 2007.
"The club is saved," said a relieved Guazzini. "There was a moment of incredible solidarity around Stade Francais. It has been a tough trial from which we will emerge stronger."
Stade appeared to have found an answer to their mounting debts, caused largely by the failure of advertising company Sportys, earlier this month when a Montreal-based foundation, FACEM, promised €12m worth of investment. However, the deal, brokered by former Stade and France coach Bernard Laporte fell through leading to legal action and arrests.
"I am thinking today of Bernard Laporte with whom we looked for a solution which sadly proved to be an impasse because you know that the FACEM people are in prison as we speak," said Gauzzini.
Stade have recruited heavily for the 2011-12 season with Argentinean fly-half Felipe Contepomi, England winger Paul Sackey and former All Black Byron Kelleher all signing for the club in recent weeks and the new owners moved quickly to reassure fans that all such contracts would be honoured.
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