Saturday, he attended, in a Stade de France behind closed doors, the exciting triumph of his young Toulouse guard, Dupont and Ntamack in the lead, in the jersey of the XV of France against Ireland (35-27). The next day, a few kilometers away, in an enclosure of Jean-Bouin, Porte d’Auteuil, just as empty, he contemplated the sad spectacle of the rout of his people in front of the Stade Français (48-14).
Didier Lacroix, the Toulouse president returns to the gruesome situation which sees his club, the most successful in France, reigning French champion in 2019, undergo the law of duplicates at a time when he is going through a worrying economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
What emotions did you go through this weekend?
DIDIER LACROIX. It’s a schizophrenic situation. I find it hard to admit it. In twenty-four hours, we go from the flashes of Toulouse dressed in blue to a missed club meeting. I do not want to take anything away from the merit of Stade Français, which was very good, but our players, who are for some future internationals, did not have the maturity necessary for this kind of match.
Do you not feel a sense of injustice by downgrading the standings (3rd) because of duplicates while your players make the XV of France shine?
There is a great deal of frustration. We must fight this situation, find solutions. We can’t go on like this. It is not just for the Toulouse Stadium, but also for Racing 92, Clermont, Toulon… There should be no opposition relationship with the XV of France. Spectators, players or managers, we should never have to make a choice between our club and the France team. We have to deal with this subject. It’s in everyone’s best interest, including the broadcaster (Editor’s note: Canal +) who doesn’t always have the show they expect.
Do you have any solutions ?
If we look next to us, we see that the English have found their balance. As at home, it would take an elite with twelve clubs. That would free up four or five dates. We could thus sanctify the French team, even if it means organizing an additional competition such as the Coupe de France or the Challenge Yves-du-Manoir. The clubs could thus compete during the international windows and allow their non-international players not to be stopped for so long. This would make it possible to have consistency in the management of players, but also for the reading of this sport by the general public. And this is all the more important in the period we are going through.
Are you really in danger economically?
Playing behind closed doors is the worst situation. Three-quarters of our income comes from ticketing, subscriptions, sales around the stadium, and partnerships. There is not just the game, but an environment, well-being together, proximity. This is what companies are looking for. We are less dependent on TV rights (Editor’s note: 25% of revenue) and that’s what penalizes us.
How much do you estimate your losses are?
It’s simple, we established our budget (33 million euros) based on a classic season since we were deconfined. A gauge of 5000 spectators, that makes us lose 5.6 million euros over the season. If we have a gauge of 1000, it’s 8 million euros. The closed door is 70% of our lost budget (or 23 million euros), because we can no longer value anything. It makes us fall into something abysmal. If we are not in default, it is because we are holding on to the loans we have taken out. There is a big difference with the first containment.
That is to say ?
We were at a standstill, so our payroll, which represents 75% of our expenses, was partially covered by partial unemployment. This is no longer the case. At the time, our partners and subscribers did not ask for a refund or discount because it was March, towards the end of the season. It was a great proof of trust and attachment. But the gauges and then the in camera were introduced early this time. Everyone wonders how long this will last. Some hesitate and we can understand them. To sum up, we play, so we don’t receive any help, without having the possibility of exercising our profession which is also to sell a show.
How can you get out of it?
A rugby club has a social role. He forges links between social classes, between generations. It is of public utility. We hope the state will help us. If we can’t get over it, we will have to put in a new system and have investors who could pay off the debt. And abandon the real economy that we have set up. My role is to prepare for the future. I do it with lucidity.
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr