Friday, 9 March 2012

Record-breaking PSG head for Dijon

"Certainly PSG is the club of all records," announces Le Parisien today. Sadly this latest record is about as welcome as a copy of Phil Collins' greatest hits, as the club is set to post a loss of €100million this year.

Buying a load of expensive players and hiring an expensive manager, as well as paying off his predecessor, are the obvious reasons for this. If accurate, that figure makes us more financially viable than Manchester City (£197million, or ~€235million losses last year) but less thrifty than Chelsea (£67million or ~€80million losses).

The comparison with the two Premier League teams probably isn't massively relevant as those two clubs are at a different stage of their project, and have more revenue from TV rights, Champions League participation, etc. But their figures do highlight the lunacy of club resident Nasser al-Khelaifi's comments in the Italian press.

"In five years, by improving revenue marketing, TV rights sales and including tickets, we will start making profits," he told the Gazetta dello Sport. An admirable idea, but Chelsea have been saying that for more than five years, and even allowing for their frequent (and costly) managerial changes don't seem any closer to achieving it. Certainly the PSG will have to do something, as €100million are supposedly going to become a thing of the past when EUFA's financial fair play rules come in for the 2014/15 season.

Meanwhile PSG probably also holds the record for the highest number of stupid fans in Ligue 1, and 50 of them stormed the Camp des Loges training ground on Thursday to protest at the treatment they receive when trying to attend away games. A letter was delivered, angry noise was made, and a camera-man from L'Equipe TV was assaulted.

Last season, following all the trouble in 2009/10 which saw PSG supporters literally killing each other in skirmishes outside the Parc-des-Princes, the so-called Leproux plan, instigated by former president Robin Leproux, was put in place to try and kerb the violence. The plan included random distribution of seats, meaning rival fans couldn't congregate so easily on the Bolougne Kop and Tribune D'Auteil, as they had done previously.

Restrictions were also put in place about travelling to away matches, though these were lifted at the start of the season, and all had been fine up until the Lyon game last month. Around 1,000 PSG fans headed south for the match, but unfortunately some Pwoper Nawty boys wrecked a service-station en route, and as a result for the rest of the season away travel will only be allowed as part of an official, club-organised, trip.

The protesting fans claim the club is losing it's soul, and you can sort of see their point: as more high-profile players arrive, ticket prices are unlikely to go down, the stadium is likely to become filled with the brigade en sandwich crevettes. But on the other hand, if they didn't behave like idiots then they wouldn't be treated like idiots: Trust, encouragement, reward, loyalty, satisfaction, as David Brent once said, and invading your own team's training ground isn't really the action of a group that's going to be taken seriously by anyone.

The restrictions will be in place this Sunday when we head to Dijon. Insert appropriate gag about needing to cut the mustard here.


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