At the heart of an unprecedented imbroglio with the agglomeration of Montbéliard, which could push his club to leave the Bonal stadium, the general manager of FC Sochaux Samuel Laurent says he is “ready to negotiate” with PMA, but “does not want to lie down “Faced with the financial requirements of the authority owning the infrastructure, he warns.
The imbroglio is unprecedented. Undoubtedly a first in the history of professional football clubs in France. Unable to reach an agreement with Pays de Montbéliard Agglomeration (PMA), owner of the Bonal stadium, FC Sochaux-Montbéliard could simply find themselves “at the door” by the end of the week. While there are four matches left – and possible play-offs – to play at home this season, the FCSM wants to do everything to avoid an improvised move. But the situation is complex, the tension, palpable.
“It’s mind-numbing stupidity to come to this” agrees the general manager of FC Sochaux, questioned this Monday, March 28 by telephone, “Simply for a question of posture. It’s a bit of a cockfight but Charles Demouge (PMA President) must understand that he is not the only negotiator at the table” warns the boss of the Sochaux club.
A question of posture? Not only since it is indeed a financial disagreement which currently prevents the two parties from establishing a new agreement. An essential contract for the rental of the Bonal stadium by FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, its lair since 1931. “We feel like we are being punished. We are losing more money than at the time of Peugeot, we are losing more money than at that of TechPro and Mr. Li. Today it is clear: I have the feeling that Sochaux is the cow with PMA milk. We can’t go on like this” continues Samuel Laurent, who continues to denounce the attitude of the agglomeration vis-à-vis his club.
500,000 euros minimum: this is, according to its own estimates, what FC Sochaux could lose each year if it were to accept the initial PMA proposal. In other words, the payment of all Bonal’s charges, in electricity and fuel oil in particular, which are increasing. “It’s not just a question of money” explains Samuel Laurent, “I told PMA. We would be ready to pay and take the rental charges on our behalf. But in this case, the owner must renovate what needs to be. There are a lot of things falling apart here. The locker rooms, the training ground, part of the training center. The club is not going to renovate land that does not belong to it”.
A cockfight between Charles Demouge and Samuel Laurent, an incredible situation in which neither seems to want to concede the slightest crumb to the other. This is the situation that today jeopardizes the future of the FCSM in Bonal. An observation that is all the more bitter as the club, currently fifth in Ligue 2, is doing very well in sporting and economic terms.
The director general assures us, however, he tried to raise the debate with the agglomeration. In vain. “I tried to call him on Saturday, again today. For the moment I don’t have an answer. But you have to understand that reaching out, taking a step, is not lying down. We have to stop believing that we can give up everything” again warns Samuel Laurent. “For now, we don’t even know how much we’re talking about. I don’t know the amounts, I don’t have the information. So let’s get to the negotiating table and try to find a solution. Everyone needs to calm down.”
To our question of whether the maintenance of the next match of his team scheduled for Bonal, next April 9, against Nancy in Ligue 2, worries him, Samuel Laurent answers in the positive. “I cannot reassure the supporters for the moment” regrets the boss of the FCSM, “If PMA really throws us out, if they continue to play the clock as they do, we will have another problem, a problem with the League. Will she let us play in a stadium we don’t have an agreement with? The question is valid”.
The first stadium approved to host a Ligue 2 match is 275 kilometers from the Cité des Princes, in Gueugnon. At present, FC Sochaux-Montbéliard does not rule out moving there, temporarily. Again, provided that an agreement is possible with the owners of the stadium.
“We will have to concede something to get out of here. Both parties will have to make concessions” hopes Samuel Laurent, who says he is waiting for a phone call from his counterpart. For the moment, no meeting with Charles Demouge is scheduled. The end of the lease for the rental of the Bonal stadium is scheduled for March 30, 2022.
Contacted, the president of Pays Montbéliard Agglomeration should for his part answer our questions this Tuesday, March 29. He will participate this Monday at 6 p.m. in the 100% FCSM program with our colleagues from France Bleu.