Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Ligue 1: Bordeaux sent to third tier, Saint-Etienne raided by police in post-relegation financial fallout

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Girondins de Bordeaux have been relegated administratively to Championnat National 1 which is the third tier of French soccer due to their perilous financial situation while AS Saint-Etienne were visited by the authorities this week as part of an investigation into illegal player registration. Both sides were relegated from Ligue 1 which is the French topflight at the end of the 2021/22 campaign although dropping further was always a possibility for Bordeaux given that they were administratively saved last summer after flirting with liquidation.

“Girondins de Bordeaux will appeal the DNCG’s decision to relegate the club to National 1,” the team said in a statement. “It is with dismay that FCGB notes the DNCG’s decision to announce an administrative relegation to the third tier. The club will obviously appeal the decision immediately. This brutal decision, after nearly two hours of hearings in good conditions, deprives the club of continuing its strategy to clean up its finances and write a new page in Bordeaux’s history.

“Heard on June 14 by the DNCG, the club presented a guaranteed re-engagement of the majority shareholder of $10.4 million, an agreement with the club’s debtors as well as offers for a few players more than the total targeted amount. The club remains confident in its ability to demonstrate a solid project for the 2022-23 season and the appeal will grant time to finalize new solutions to ensure Ligue 2 status.”

Saint-Etienne and Angers SCO who are currently in the process of an American takeover are both being investigated due to suspicious player registration and agent activity with several player representatives investigated recently by French authorities.

“ASSE confirms receiving police officers as part of a preliminary investigation,” read a Saint-Etienne communique. “The club gave the investigators the information they requested and was heard as a witness relating to alleged illegal practice of player agency.”

“Saint-Etienne management was received this Tuesday by the DNCG as part of the club’s examinations ahead of the 2022-23 season,” added another statement. “Despite relegation, no restrictive measures have been passed down against ASSE.”

Bordeaux can appeal their relegation which they have already announced they intend to do but even a windfall from Aurelien Tchouameni’s move from AS Monaco to Real Madrid and this summer’s commercial subsidiary funds via CVC Partners was not enough to stave off financial worries.

Championnat National 1 is the semi-professional third tier of French soccer while Ligue 2 is fully professional, and Bordeaux find themselves outside of the elite for the first time since 1990-91 which was also due to financial reasons. Saint-Etienne were last outside of Ligue 1 in the early 2000s and returned in 2005 and like Angers, are on the verge of a U.S. takeover with David S. Blitzer’s group expected to buy Les Verts after a lengthy sale process which looked like it might end unsuccessfully.

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