At the gates of Ligue 1 at the end of the 2008-2009 season, Tours FC, then led by future internationals Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, fell ten years later into the anonymity of amateur competitions in National 3, the equivalent of 5e division. But the Touraine club, which enjoyed its heyday in the 1980s, aims to start over from a blank page to regain professional status as quickly as possible and a standing worthy of its history and its infrastructures.
How? ‘Or’ What ? Before handing over, Jean-Marc Ettori, the current main shareholder (also CEO of the tour operator Corsicatours), and Guillaume Barré, the deputy chairman, commissioned Luc Dayan, the former leader of Losc and a major specialist in restructuring. of clubs on the verge of bankruptcy (Lille, Nantes, Valenciennes, Lens), to outline the contours of a takeover in the form of a Scic (cooperative society of collective interest), a legal status created in 2001.
A capital open to all
The project is supported by the new ecological mayor of Tours, Emmanuel Denis, who had promised during the electoral campaign to open the club’s capital to supporters, employees, former players, local authorities and local businesses. Very involved in football, the city’s sports assistant believes in the virtues of popular shareholding: “It is the guarantee of more democracy and transparency, explains Eric Thomas. Thesupporters become shareholderswill no longer beconfined to the simple role of spectator. By participating in governance, they will be actors in the project with a right to review the club’s strategic choices. “
Financially, this opportunity is akin to the club’s last chance. In three years, the value of FC Tours has eroded considerably. The potential buyers were scalded by the club’s liabilities, indebted to the tune of two million euros, or even more taking into account the industrial tribunal disputes under investigation. Hence this alternative financing project, in the form of a new economic model, which should be completed by the summer and before the passage of Tours FC before the National Management Control Department, the financial policeman of French football.
For the moment, the enthusiasm is rather there. Launched on March 30 on the club’s website, the public subscription campaign has so far collected more than € 400,000 in investment pledges. While the price of the share is set at € 50 for individuals, some have committed up to € 10,000, while former big names of the club such as international striker Éric Pécout, Jimmy Adjovi-Boco or Sylvain Distin expressed the wish to take shares in the new company. The City of Tours has for its part planned to submit to the vote of the municipal council in July a participation of 100,000 €, the equivalent of 2,000 shares.
Guillaume Barré sees this collective membership as a first encouraging sign: “Whatever happens, to find the summits, we will need solidarity”, he emphasizes. In all, Luc Dayan hopes to collect between 1 and 1.5 million euros to ensure the budget for the first two years.
In the wake of FC Tours and like the big Spanish clubs like FC Barcelona, owned by “Socios”, other clubs could be tempted to involve the supporters. In Ligue 1, this could concern, for example, the Girondins de Bordeaux, weakened by the withdrawal of the American investment fund King Street, owner of the club. The environmentalist mayor, Pierre Hurmic, met buyers but announced that he was also considering the establishment of a “New economic model, better associating supporters, on the model of socios”.
Upset by the Covid pandemic and the end of the broadcasting contract with Mediapro, which caused an unprecedented drop in club revenues, the football world is going through an unprecedented crisis, prompting them to consider new economic, healthy and sustainable models.
Bastia, the pioneer
Before FC Tours, Luc Dayan tested the model of La Scic in Bastia, the first French club to be administered under this legal status. In filing for bankruptcy at the end of the 2016-2017 season, Sporting was administratively demoted to National 3. To begin its reconstruction, it integrated the supporters into the board of directors, who created the association of Socios de the Étoile club bastiais (SECB). In addition to former players and leaders, supporters and players in economic life, a dozen municipalities have become involved in the capital. The players have just achieved the feat, signing their return to the professional fold, in Ligue 2.