A seagull following French football's sardine trawler
RESULTS Sat Apr 24 Nancy 0-0 Montpellier, Le Mans 1-2 Lille,
Lorient 1-0 Bordeaux, Sochaux 0-3 Boulogne, Nice 2-1 Grenoble, PSG 1-1
Rennes Sun Apr 25 Toulouse 0-3 Auxerre, Lens 1-1 Valenciennes,
Marseille 1-0 Saint-Étienne
Franck Ribéry wasn’t the only one associated with French Football to see red over the last few days.
L’Équipe got hold of a confidential eight-page document produced by the DNCG that revealed the sheer scale of the financial problems engulfing the game in France.
According to the DNCG, the current model is “unsupportable for the majority of clubs, in particular the small and medium-sized ones.”
French clubs tend to survive on TV and transfer revenues alone, devoting a staggering 71 per cent of turnover to paying wages. It is estimated that French football will make a net loss of around €100m across its top two divisions this season, prompting some to call for Ligue 1 to be reduced to 18 teams.
As far as matters on the pitch were concerned, Bordeaux had a full week to prepare for their trip to Lorient on Saturday, leaving fans optimistic that Laurent Blanc’s side would reverse their fortunes after three defeats in their last four league games.
Le Girondins had beaten Lorient 4-1 on two occasions already this season, so if there was ever a time to get back to winning ways it was surely this weekend.
However, despite a fine first half, Bordeaux lost again as Kevin Gameiro gave the Breton outfit a 1-0 win. Blanc’s side now look unlikely to finish in the Champions League places.
Marseille put in a clichéd performance at the weekend, showing the hallmark of champions by beating Saint-Étienne 1-0 despite being absolutely dreadful.
Of course, there were still several positives to be drawn from the result, as Didier Deschamps’ side retained their five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1 with four games remaining.
Mathieu Valbuena also scored his third goal in four games, making the leprechaun-like winger a dark horse for a place in France’s World Cup squad.
The title could almost be mathematically wrapped up next Friday when Marseille travel to second-placed Auxerre who thrashed Toulouse 3-0 on Sunday to extend their unbeaten run to 13 matches.
“The cards aren’t in our hands,” smiled Auxerre’s captain Benoît Pedretti. “If we don’t lose our next two matches against Marseille and Lyon we’ll feel very good about finishing in the top three places.”
Chapeau to Auxerre coach Jean Fernandez for exceeding expectations this season.
Elsewhere, Boulogne’s 30-year-old cult striker Grégory Thil scored his first goal since his return from eight months on the sidelines with a serious ankle injury.
Fans of the Ligue 2-bound side were left pondering what might have been as had Thil been fit for the entire season Boulogne might have stayed up.
His 78 goals over the last five seasons have seen Boulogne move up three divisions and will be needed next year, although he might not still be around with several clubs interested in his signature.
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