Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 7 No. 149

Franchises

Just months after his appointment as CCO of Paris 2024 this past summer, a role the former Olympic gymnast called a “dream job,” Frédéric Longuépée received an offer he couldn't refuse.

The new American owner of Ligue 1 club Bordeaux -- investment group GACP -- came calling, and though Longuépée said leaving Paris 2024 was "not an easy decision," he was swayed by the "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a No. 1" at the French club.

“It’s a natural follow-up after being No. 3 at PSG, which was an incredible journey,” Longuépée said. “Bordeaux has an incredible story in the French national championship, in a city which is probably, after Paris, the second-most well-known city [in France]. Everybody knows Bordeaux. It has an incredible brand image and there is a unique opportunity to capture what Bordeaux represents in terms of expertise, savoir-faire and elegance.”

Longuépée was Paris St. Germain’s exec VP, business operations from ’12 until this summer. He said that he is hopeful a commercial strategy like the one he helped lead at PSG, where annual revenue increased from €90M when he started to €500M by his final year, can have a similar impact at Bordeaux. The club, which was founded in 1881 and has won six Ligue 1 titles, boasts a 40,000-seat stadium completed in ’15, an “incredible” training facility at Chateau du Haillan, and now, an ambitious new ownership group.

“Being American, they know that it’s not only a football project; it’s much more than that,” Longuépée said of GACP. “The sports side, together with the non-sports side, are incredibly bound together. What [GACP] liked was what we were able to develop with Paris in terms of commercial activity and international brand appeal. That’s the beauty of having an owner who has the vision to develop something different. … It’s important to have a vision which is different from the usual way of driving a football club. The marketing is not only on the pitch.”

A PROPER SPORTS ORGANIZATION: While Longuépée said that Bordeaux will attempt to replicate PSG’s success incorporating the brand image of its home city, he said that his new club will take a much different approach to player acquisition and development.

“We should not compare a club which is owned by a state and a club which is owned by a private equity firm,” he said. “It’s not the same. We will have to drive things differently. We will focus also on the capacity to attract young talent that would feed the professional team. We will trust in a sports director for that, to implement a proper sports organization.”

Longuépée added, “We don't plan to compete with Paris Saint-Germain on €100 million player acquisitions but find other ways to ensure our competitiveness on the field. But eventually, I think we have the means to compete with Marseille, to compete with Lille, to compete with St. Etienne and qualify for European competition.”

‘SOMETHING YOU CREATE’: After two major career changes in such a short period of time, Longuépée said of his recent appointments, "It’s been incredible. I don’t think things happen by hazard or by chance. I’m a really pragmatic guy, but in the end, it’s also something you create along the way: the way you work, the network you have managed to build over the years, the way you behave on a daily basis with people you work with. Nothing happens by chance."

Roberto Mancini signed two contracts upon being appointed as Man City's manager in '09.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Man City is alleged to have "hidden more than half the salary" to former Manager Roberto Mancini when he joined the club in '09, according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. The latest revelations of leaks published by German magazine Der Spiegel allege that "the bulk of Mancini's salary was paid to him for being an adviser to the Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club in Abu Dhabi," which is also owned by Sheikh Mansour. Mancini signed two contracts on the same day -- one a base £1.45M a year for Man City, before bonuses, and the other a base £1.75M with the Abu Dhabi United Group, paid into an offshore shell company in Mauritius called Sparkleglow Holdings. The leaks also disclosed the "huge salaries" being paid by Man City to its players. Leroy Sané was guaranteed £24.5M over three years when he joined as a 20-year-old, while Sergio Agüero is paid £18M annually (LONDON TIMES, 11/8).

'SIGNIFICANT POTENTIAL TO DAMAGE': In London, James Ducker reported Man City ignored warnings from its staff by "striking a sponsorship deal with a construction company accused of mistreating migrant workers," according to leaked documents. The club pushed ahead with a £7M-a-year regional sponsorship contract with Arabtec, a "controversial" Dubai-based construction company, despite club staff expressing concerns about "the morality of such a deal and the potential impact it would have on their reputation." It is alleged a risk analysis regarding a possible deal with Arabtec was carried out by execs but the club struck a deal despite the report concluding a partnership with the company would have "significant potential to damage the perception and standing of the club and its owners" (TELEGRAPH, 11/7).

PSG PROBE: Ziegler also reported Paris St. Germain opened an investigation into claims that young players were "subject to racial profiling during their recruitment process to limit the number of black players in their academy." French investigative website Mediapart, which cited documents from the latest series of Football Leaks allegations, said that the club's scouts were asked to choose one of four options for every player they watched on an electronic form stating their ethnicity. Their origin was to be described as French, North African, West Indian or African -- "but only white players were noted as French." Social profiling is illegal in France. Based on documents provided by the Football Leaks platform, Mediapart reported PSG's former chief scout in France, Marc Westerloppe, told his colleagues that "there is a problem with the direction of this club ... there are too many West Indians and Africans in Paris." A spokesperson for PSG said, "We are talking about one recruiting unit with a manager who put that in place from 2013 until 2017, without our knowledge." He added that "all these people have left" the club (LONDON TIMES, 11/8).

Everton was banned from signing academy players for two years and "hit" with a £500,000 ($652,875) fine after admitting to "tapping up schoolboys," according to Paul Joyce of the LONDON TIMES. The severity of the punishment handed out by the Premier League "outstrips" those handed to Liverpool and Man City in recent seasons. An investigation after an anonymous tip into claims Everton had offered inducements to a Cardiff City youngster in '16 "resulted in several other instances in which the Goodison Park club had illegally approached youngsters coming to light." Everton admitted the initial allegation and the club's internal inquiry established that "similar misconduct had occurred in relation to six other academy players." Everton suspended Head of Academy Recruitment Martin Waldron upon beginning its own probe. In a statement, Everton said that it was "extremely disappointed with some of the practices we have found which are not in line with our values and not acceptable to Everton Football Club" (LONDON TIMES, 11/8).

Two former players are suing Scottish Premiership side Celtic, with one "claiming that his mental health was damaged by the abuse he suffered" at the hands of pedophile coach Jim Torbett, who founded the Celtic Boys Club. A court filed said, "This action concerns a claim for damages for historic sexual abuse. The pursuer has been diagnosed as suffering from mental ill health attributable to that abuse." The players are being represented by Patrick McGuire (LONDON TIMES, 11/8).

Serie A side AC Milan "could be fined" up to €20M ($22.7M) by UEFA for its Financial Fair Play breaches and receive a ban on registering players for the Europa League in January. AC Milan was initially barred from the competition due to its "financial situation," but it successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS ruled that the club "should be reinstated, but returned the matter to UEFA to impose a more proportionate punishment" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 11/8).

Premier League side Leicester City players will "wear shirts" with late Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's name "embroidered on them" when they play their first home match since he was killed in a helicopter crash last month. Leicester City will pay tribute to Srivaddhanaprabha with a video presentation when it hosts Burnley on Saturday, while supporters have also "planned a march to the venue." Both teams will "wear black armbands during the game, with a two-minute silence to be observed" before kickoff (REUTERS, 11/8).