PSG and Monaco initiated the movement in 2011, passing under the Qatari and Russian banner respectively. Fourteen of the 40 French professional clubs in L1 and L2 now fly the foreign flag. But what motivates investors to bet on French clubs? First, the low relative price of the latter and therefore the prospect of significant capital gains on resale. Frank McCourt thus offered OM for “only” 45 million euros in 2016.
Then, France is renowned for the richness of its reservoir and the quality of its training of players. Prone to short-term profits, American investment funds generally aim to trade in players or “trading”. More over the long term, the Gulf countries are targeting the French market for economic and even political prospects that go beyond the simple framework of football.
In Toulouse, bought by an American fund in July, and in Troyes, which came under Emirati control in early September, we considered the consequences of the arrival of foreign shareholders. Decryption.
The TFC has become the toy of Americans
But what did they come to do in this galley? Three months after the takeover of TFC, doubt remains about the real intentions of Redbird (which had surveyed Paris FC or Red Star in the Paris region), this New York investment fund which acquired 85% of the club in July. of the Pink City from the hands of Olivier Sadran, the former owner. In recent days, the same American investment fund has created a new structure, Redball, which has entered into negotiations with the owners of Liverpool, Fenway Sports, with a view to a merger of the two groups.
With this in mind, Redball raised funds in August of 575 million dollars (490 million euros) on the American market. Redball took only a few hours to sell all of its stock. The investment is however classified “at risk” by the American stock market policeman. A frenzy that reflects the current enthusiasm around sport quite well: across the Atlantic, investors are eyeing “soccer”, convinced that the explosion of TV rights will cause a significant increase in the value of clubs. In the United States, for the past 30 years, the price of teams from the four major leagues (basketball, baseball, American football and hockey) has increased by 12% on average each year. The stock market, in comparison, grew “only” by 8% …
A sale estimated at 35 million euros
So what the hell did Redbird do in Toulouse? Why have bought with one hand a modest club (and relegated to Ligue 2 last summer) while preparing with the other an investment of a completely different nature? The subject is sensitive and no one wants to speak. Neither Gerry Cardinale, the CEO of Redbird, who did not respond to our requests, nor Damien Comolli, the representative of Redbird in Toulouse via his position as president of the TFC. For his part, Jean-Luc Moudenc, the mayor of Toulouse, tells us that he was “reassured” after having discussed with them on their arrival via a videoconference: “They told me that they were coming for the long term”, we he confides. Olivier Sadran, the former owner of the club (and still a minority shareholder), for his part replied by text: “They are really good people, nothing more to say. “Good people perhaps, but with what intentions?
The purchase of the TFC could be intended to show investors the seriousness of their project. Because if Redbird and Gerry Cardinale are already involved in sport, they have never been fully owners of any franchise. All this for a fairly low entry ticket: according to our information, the amount of the sale of Téfécé would be around 35 million euros. This amount is explained by the assets available to the TFC (a workforce worth 30 million, equity in excess of 10 million, more than 5 million euros in real estate, etc.), but also and above all by the potential of the club of the 4th largest city in France.
But several questions remain: who will control whom? In their merger with Fenway, Redball executives are expected to remain in the minority (25%). The structure they created for the occasion has been floated on the stock exchange, and will allow the Redball / Fenway alliance to be automatically listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Gerry Cardinale and Redbird thus seem to be the false nose of John Henry, the owner of Fenway. With what consequence for the TFC? A priori, the Toulouse club seems protected because it is hosted by another structure, not listed (Redbird FC). But things could change in the future.
A single goal: business
“Buying a small club allows you to familiarize yourself with the specific legal and technical aspects of the sector, it is something that you sometimes see, also suggests an observer of the American market. This will allow them to save time, to be ready for future investments. “Redbird will have notably tested the use of” data “, or data in French. The TFC is already relying on it a lot, especially for its recruitment. Unavoidable in American sports, they were popularized by a book and a film, “Moneyball” (“Le Stratège” in French), inspired by a true story. In the film, Brad Pitt plays the role played in real life by Billy Beane, one of the forerunners of the use of “data” in baseball, with the Oakland A’s. We find the same Billy Beane, now associated with … Gerry Cardinale in the fundraising recently operated, and active in the recruitment of the TFC operated this summer.
In the document sent to investors, which we have obtained, the leaders of Redbird detail how they target their clubs: “Brands that can be strengthened by our management through the improvement of performance in the field and revenues outside” , by relying on “better use of the network to generate new customer relationships”, and “the monetization of intellectual property and real estate assets”.
The new leaders of the TFC have also recently contacted the Metropolis to consider the creation of a “public service delegation” for the Stadium which would offer them great freedom in the management and operation of the premises. What to expect next? A change of name, of colors, as City did with some of its satellite clubs? By abandoning itself to an American investment fund whose sole purpose is business, the TFC may have put its finger in a gear of which it does not control all the springs.
Troyes with “Skyblues” sauce
Will Estac transform into “Troyes City FC” and opt for the sky blue of Manchester City? It is possible since the takeover of the Ligue 2 club by City Football Group (CFG) on September 3. CFG is a juggernaut weighing 5 billion euros, born in 2014 from the will of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which already acquired the Manchester City club in 2008 through the channel of the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) investment fund .
His vocation? Extend the zone of influence of the Mancunian club and the emirate to the whole world, by creating branches in the four corners of the planet. For six years, nine clubs have thus passed under the “Citizen” banner. Latest acquisition, Troyes, bought for 8 million euros, according to our information. At the origin of this pharaonic project, there is Ferran Soriano, 53, a Catalan businessman, former manager of FC Barcelona and now executive director of Manchester City. Faced with Barça’s refusal to embark on the business, Soriano found a taker in the person of Sheikh Mansour, the member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi at the helm of the emirate’s sports policy.
“Soriano describes the desire to build something that will allow the development of a market in different countries and different corners of the globe,” underlines Didier Primault, director of the Limoges Center for Sports Law and Economics (CDES). That is to say, capture revenues in important markets. But also to capture talents there, with a view to enriching the group, first through talents and then profits. “
What is CFG looking for in Troyes in particular? “As a large European market, France is economically attractive,” continues Primault. And CFG is certainly not immune to the expansion of L1’s TV rights. But CFG is there too and above all because there is an ability to produce talent that is almost incomparable, apart from in Brazil. In addition, Troyes is not far from Paris, which has a pretty fantastic pool of talent. “
“There is a will to set up the City game”
And Troyes, 4th in L2 last season, what can he expect from CFG? First of all a playing identity, modeled on that which coach Pep Guardiola cultivates with the “Skyblues”, inherited from Johan Cruyff: possession-attack-pressing. “There is a desire to set up the City game in each of the clubs, confirms coach Erick Mombaerts, 65, who on behalf of CFG coached Yokohama for three seasons (2014-2017), then Melbourne for the season. last. Depending on the country, it is more or less complicated, depending on the different sensitivities. In A-League, with players who weren’t specifically chosen, we proved that we could put this style of play in place. In one year, we finished 2nd in the championship and best attack. Gambling is what fascinates me. After Yokohama, I worked for a year with another person on the development of the methodology for the implementation of this game, which we are constantly developing. “
The arrival of Mombaerts as technical director is a possibility in Troyes where Simon Cliff, a 44-year-old Englishman, Manchester City lawyer, succeeded Daniel Masoni, president since 2009, a few days after the takeover. François Vitali, passed through Lille and Monaco, arrived at the beginning of the month to replace sports director Luis Sousa. The transfer window of the Estac, closed on October 5, did not bear the CFG leg. Coach Laurent Batlles, extended until June 2023 this summer, recently claimed to have free rein. In short, the Estac is not yet in “City” mode.
League 1 : PSG (Qatar), Monaco (Russia), Marseille (United States), Lille (Luxembourg), Nice (United Kingdom), Bordeaux (United States), Lens (Luxembourg).
League 2: Sochaux (China), Auxerre (China), Le Havre (United States), Clermont (Switzerland), Caen (United States), Troyes (Abu Dhabi), Toulouse (United States).
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr