March, and it starts again. After months of dawdling, the French professional basketball decided, on February 22, to polish its floors again, and the two French divisions – “Jeep Élite” and Pro B – are therefore gradually resuming this month before accelerating their dribbles to end the season at the end of June. Suffice to say that under the baskets, a nice traffic jam is to be expected, the 18 Jeep Elite clubs having between 21 and 26 games still to play, not to mention the continental duels for the teams qualified in European competitions (Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne, Boulogne -Levallois, Monaco, Bourg-en-Bresse and Strasbourg).
A recovery of 15 million euros
The National Basketball League (LNB) (re) starts from afar. Last November, in the middle of the second confinement, the clubs decided, faced with the obligation to play behind closed doors, to put their championship on hold, by scheduling only a few meetings over the months, so as not to completely disappear from the screens. radars. “We preferred to wait for the possibility of finding the public, because the economy of our clubs really depends on the ticket office and the reception of partners, explains Alain Béral, the president of the LNB. Organizing a game behind closed doors is a cost: up to € 180,000 for a club in an Elite Jeep, € 60,000 for a team in Pro B. It was necessary to limit damage. “
Except that on the front of the Covid-19 epidemic, the improvement has not come. With the end of winter coming, we had to get out of our torpor: either end the season definitively, for the second year in a row, or get back to work. It is the financial argument that has once again won the day. In November 2020, the loss linked to the holding of the championships without an audience was estimated at 23 million euros, 17 million for the Jeep Elite clubs, 6 million for those of Pro B. New simulation at the end of January: the bill does not apply. would eventually rise to 15 million euros, 11 million for the elite and 4 million for the Pro B. Less badly.
Deficits that could reach € 500,000 at the end of the season
“What changed the situation between the two evaluations was the state aid which was confirmed and extended. Above all, the European Commission has decided to remove the ceiling on public aid, which could thus drop from € 800,000 to € 1.8 million., welcomes Alain Béral. Under these conditions, the clubs decided more than 95% to restart the machine. “
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According to the National Directorate of Consulting and Management Control (DNCCG) of the LNB which keeps a close eye on club spending, five of them risk ending the season with deficits exceeding € 500,000. The big teams like Asvel, Limoges or Strasbourg are concerned. Much smaller teams, such as L’Étoile sportive Saint-Michel Le Portel Côte d’Opale, are dependent on refunds of subscriptions or partnerships. “We are in full negotiation on this subject, knowing that we have already lost 50% of our commercial revenues, indicates Yann Rivoal, the president of the club. If we have to reimburse everything, our losses at the end of the season could reach 600,000 €. “
Thinking about the club of tomorrow
Everyone is hanging on their calculator. Current red lantern, Boulazac forecasts a final deficit of 180,000 to 200,000 €. L’Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez still hopes to achieve positive results. “Let’s say we went from black to light gray, not to pink”, summarizes Alain Béral.
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The crisis affects in particular the clubs which have worked the most towards a virtuous system which is less dependent on public subsidies. After ten years of efforts as president of the Strasbourg club to bring down this aid from 50 to 25%, Martial Bellon is quite disillusioned: “My feeling is that all this work done so that the private sector finances the club to a very large extent is completely erased”, he regretted recently in the columns of the monthly Basketball. “In economic terms, we went back seven years”, measure for his part Alain Béral.
Rethinking the future is therefore fundamental. The LNB and club presidents are applying it, with committees reflecting since the fall. The club of tomorrow? A structure that animates its territory, like Champagne Basket, which last December consecrated the merger between Châlons Reims and Reims women’s basketball (Ligue 2 women). Or a brilliant club in Europe, and offering a global experience that is not limited to the evening game, like the “sportainment” project carried by Tony Parket at Asvel. “We need to bring stars back to France, review our image to better attract young people, especially on social networks”, supports Alain Béral, who evokes several avenues, including a possible reform of the championship. All ambitions are not extinguished.
On the screens, the return of free
In order not to disappear completely with a reduced championship in recent months, the LNB has applied to make all its matches visible on LNB TV, the League’s free streaming platform. The chain of The team Also broadcasts Jeep Elite matches, while Sport en France (the National Olympic Committee’s channel) broadcasts at least one Pro B match per day. This multiplication of free channels, born of the adaptation to the constraints of the pandemic, the LNB intends not to deprive itself of it in the future. “We will not go back, assures its president Alain Béral. We will obviously continue to look for a paying partner, but by remaining partly on a free offer, because we no longer want to deprive ourselves of this essential visibility. “