Bureaucracy Corner – HT: DNCG 2 – 0 Corsica


Ah, summer is here. While most football coverage right now is a feverish attempt to find who’s been seen at what airport (he’s from Chambery, Lyon is the closest international airport for a family holiday), France has another tradition apart from selling top talent for mates’ rates and loaning each other youth players. Welcome back, the DNCG, staggering into view like a vindictive drunk uncle at a wedding.

French Football’s oversight body for the league has a long history of screwing with everybody at a time when fans thought they knew what division they would be in next season, and a lot of the people needed to sort the resulting uncertainty out were hoping to be on holiday.

After previous greatest hits included binning Evian out of third-tier National for financial reasons (they have since gone bust, reformed, and will be Thonon Evian Savoie in the seventh tier next season) and stopping Luzenac’s promotion to Ligue 2 (they are now only an amateur side, in the sixth tier), the DNCG, presumably not feeling challenged enough, decided to pick a really easy target this time.


While the Confederations Cup got underway and the acronym ‘VAR’ came front and centre in the collective consciousness, la Commission de Contrôle des Clubs Professionnels was busy. Decisions on the 21 and 22 of June first relegated AC Ajaccio from Ligue 2 to National, and then SC Bastia – just relegated from Ligue 1 for sporting reasons – ditto.

ACA finished 11th in Ligue 2 last term. In their case, the club is claiming that their financials were deemed incomplete, rather than unacceptable, largely due to a delay between supportive funding being agreed in principle by local authorities, and voted upon. At his press conference, club President Léon Luciani clearly thinks this is bias: “There is a lack of trust in our political representatives and the public authorities”. An appeal has already been put in.

Bastia is maybe the bigger story, with many thinking that they should have been relegated from Ligue 1 for disciplinary reasons, quite apart from their results, with this season a rap-sheet featuring racism, punch-ups, and hitting Lucas in the head with a stick, as well as the usual fumigenes and crowd trouble.

Their – uncharacteristically brief and calm – statement says that they will be looking to balance the books by the next hearing. However, this includes reference to the deadline giving them time « de céder au mieux ses joueurs » – to sell players. This might be an issue.

According to Transfermarkt, 7 of SCB’s 8 top-valued players are…on loan. And clearly not sticking around for a drop to Ligue 2, let alone further. Sadio Diallo comes in fifth on €2m and he’s only got one year left on his contract. And, that value’s not just book – six of them played over 1,000 minutes (17 players total did that), including top-scorer Enzo Crivelli (loaned from Bordeaux) and the top two outfield players for minutes, Allan Saint-Maximin (loaned from Monaco) and Pierre Bengtsson (from Mainz).

Bastia have got themselves out of financial trouble before by selling a good player for a great price – for the buyer – such as Ryad Boudebouz going to Montpellier for under €2m. With rumours swirling around him this summer, there might be something coming SCB’s way on a sell-on clause, but looking at their current squad, it is difficult to see a solid source of funds. Right-back Alexander Djiku and goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca would be worth a punt but potential buyers will be aware of the situation and bid accordingly – like Montpellier did.

They are also unlikely to be able to pick up replacements, even on loan, until where they will be playing next season gets sorted out. Sebastien Squillacci has extended his contract for a year however. Which announcement, four days after the provisional DNCG ruling, made it clear was for « un nouveau challenge cette saison en Ligue 2 » and ended « Forza Bastia ! » so I think we can assume that the communiques on this could get spikier as time goes on.

Meanwhile, Gazelec Ajaccio, who finished ninth in Ligue 2, are presumably looking around going ‘where’s everybody gone?’ and putting the order of extra security barricades on hold until this is sorted out some time in late July. Other teams implicated in this are of course potentially two teams who might be rescued from relegation / promoted from National, which means, apparently, Corsica could be replaced by Paris – which is more than PSG.

Red Star were relegated in 19th from Ligue 2, and Paris FC were beaten in the promotion/relegation play-off by Orleans having finished third in National. Le Parisien seems slightly optimistic in saying that both are ‘virtually in Ligue 2’ given how this kind of admin usually pans out. Particularly that Paris FC were one of the other teams the subject of the 21 June DNCG release – currently under supervision of their wage-bill and with other indemnity requirements in place.

Soooooo another summer of to-ing and fro-ing and appealing and communiques and the Olympic Committee (the wonderfully named CNOSF, which sounds like the noise a hedgehog makes rooting around for food) somehow ending up involved alongside multiple local financial tribunals and regional authorities.

Which leaves the fans of four clubs not sure whom or where they will be playing next year, clubs unable to manage their transfer window, players not sure if they have to leave or stay, and the rest of us wondering if this will be sorted out by the time the leagues kick off again. Which is 28th July for Ligue 2 and Lord knows when for National as the FFF website is no help.

As we have said many times before – oversight is necessary, and clubs need to live within their means. That often means selling your prized youngsters instead of keeping hold of them and developing them further. And yes, the seasonal structure of football gives a small window within which to do the accounts and the admin and the appeals. But every summer, it just feels like…this could be done better.

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