During a Ligue 2 match between FC Sochaux and Créteil, on April 10, 2015, at the Stade Auguste-Bonal, in Montbéliard (Doubs). SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP
At FC Sochaux-Montbéliard (FCSM), everyone holds their breath. The Ligue 2 club must go before the national management control department (DNCG) on Tuesday, July 11, to find out what its future will be like. On June 28, the financial “gendarme” of French football administratively downgraded Sochaux to National 1, the third division, after having revoked its budget for next season.
Read also: Football: FC Sochaux relegated to National, Bordeaux maintained in Ligue 2
Owned by the Chinese group Nenking, the Doubs club justified itself in a press release, before appealing: “The delay in the payment of these funds, which motivated the sanction of the DNCG, is explained by the cash flow difficulties encountered by Nenking in its activities linked to a Chinese real estate market in crisis since the health crisis. » The deficit, amounting to 22 million euros, is in fact a risky bet.
“The decision of the DNCG is a half-surprise, explains Rémi Farge, journalist for The Republican Eastwhich covers club news. To simplify, the leaders went all-in to move up to Ligue 1. ” Relegated in 2014, the FSCM aimed to return to the top flight during the 2022-2023 season, to the point of paying several players handsomely, sometimes at the same level as Ligue 1. Except that the club only finished the season in 9ᵉ place in the Ligue 2 championship.
First French training center
Sochaux leaders have sought to make up the shortfall in recent days. Since June 28, nearly twenty players have left the ship. To prevent it from sinking, Samuel Laurent flew to China at the end of last week to meet the shareholders there. The general manager of FCSM – the main target of supporters who criticize the club’s lifestyle – had already convinced Nenking to reinject 10 million euros in 2022 before going before the DNCG.
Nothing says that the Chinese group will this time get back to the pot. “We have to save FC Sochaux. It is a piece of French football heritage that is in danger., alert Mecha Bazdarevic, former player and coach of the club. The latter has been wavering since the disengagement, in 2015, of Peugeot, with whom the FCSM has been intimately linked for a very long time.
Read also: End of the story between Peugeot and FC Sochaux
In 1928, Maurice Bailly and Louis-Maillard Salin, two workers from the car manufacturer’s factory in Sochaux, founded the club. With the support of director Jean-Pierre Peugeot, FCSM became the first club to professionalize in France, before participating directly in the founding of the French championship, which it won twice, in 1935 and 1938. Sochaux inaugurates the first French training center in the 1970s, from which illustrious players will emerge, always under the impetus of Peugeot.
In 2015, CEO Carlos Tavares made the choice to disengage from the FCSM. “I am very angry with the president of Peugeot. We do not let down a culture like that. Sochaux is a land of football, we must not neglect the history”, regrets Jean-Claude Plessis. The president of the club from 1999 to 2008 affirms that, thereafter, “The Sochaux toy was given to kids who didn’t deserve it”. The first Chinese buyer, Ledus and his boss Wing Sang Li, pushed the club to the brink of bankruptcy. Nenking takes over in 2019 and saves the club from an administrative demotion (already) in National.
“Football is an outlet for people”
“Season after season, the new owners have cleaned up the situation. They didn’t put in a lot of money, but it was well used and the club got back to playing top of the Ligue 2 table.”, recalls Rémi Farge. In January, the Nenking group passed a milestone when the Sochaux leaders announced the construction of a new training center within four years.
A 20 million euro project which, a posteriori, provokes a bitter smile among Sochaux supporters. Mecha Bazdarevic, who continues to live in the Doubs, feels their ” worry “ but is said “half surprised” by the situation of the club, “because he has been detached for years from the city and the region”. The ex-Sochaux coach has offered his services to the club in recent months, but regrets “not even having been listened to”.
Faced with the difficulties encountered by the FCSM, Jean-Claude Plessis also says “available to help the club”. The former president, who experienced victories in the Coupe de la Ligue (2004) and Coupe de France (2007) as well as a good European career (2004), is worried about his side for the territory: “FC Sochaux is a region that is not very rich and football is an outlet for people. »
« Paris 2024 »
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
On Saturday, 500 supporters attended the players’ training at the Auguste-Bonal stadium to show their support. In the event of confirmation by the DNCG of its initial decision – expected Tuesday July 11 at the end of the day – the club would be forced to file for bankruptcy. Sochaux would then be demoted to National 3 (the 5th French division) and would discover, for the very first time in its rich history, the amateur world.