French government will not bail Stade out
June 24, 2011
Laporte, Jouanno and Guazzini face the press as they attempt to save Stade © Getty Images
The French government have refused to sanction a bail out of cash-strapped Top 14 side Stade Francais.
The Paris-based side are facing bankruptcy and relegation to the French national leagues if they fail to find a reported €6.6m (£5.9m) by Monday and any hopes of a financial lifeline from the State have been quashed by France's sports minister Chantal Jouanno.
"The state cannot save Stade Francais," said Jouanno following a meeting with club president Max Guazzini. "We met to see how we can try and help. You cannot imagine how swindling and economic difficulties can do such damage to this legendary club."
Guazzini will meet French rugby's financial watchdog, the Direction nationale d'aide de contrôle (DNACG), next week to discuss the club's plight that took a turn for the worse when a much-heralded investment failed to materialise.
A Montreal-based foundation called FACEM (Fondation pour l'amélioration des conditions de l'enfance dans le monde) set up a holding company with former French national coach Bernard Laporte to rescue the club but the promised €12m (£10.7m), reportedly to be supplied by a third-arty investor, never materialised. As a result, Laporte and Guazzini are now suing FACEM, but this will do little to alleviate their immediate predicament. Three people have since been arrested in connection with the deal.
Jouanno has rejected any notion that she could perhaps push back the date of the meeting to allow Stade more time to find an investor. "I don't have the power to change Monday's meeting," said Jouanno. "The DNACG is independent and sovereign. My role is simply as a facilitator."
Guazzini believes there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the brutal reality of their situation is clear. "There are negotiations going on, that is all I can say at this stage. If we don't find the money, then we are finished," said Guazzini. "We will be relegated to Federale 1 [third division].
"Everyone can come to Stade Français, either to make a donation or to take majority control of the club. The situation today, is that it is a battle to save a magnificent club, a world rugby mark, a very popular club. Me, I will leave, I will give way to someone who really wants the job. There are people in this country who love sport and rugby and who have enough money to save the club."
Stade have enjoyed huge success under Guazzini's presidency and emerged from the third division to win five league titles and reach two Heineken Cup finals. They have since accumulated debts of €5m (£4.5m), predominantly due to the failure of advertising company Sportys.
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 joining the Parisian side in an attempt to return them to their former glory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter