If 49-year-old Gerard Lopez is now a well-known actor in the world of sports, his ways are not unanimous. At the core of the Lille project, which propelled LOSC to the title of French football champions in May, the Spanish-Luxembourgish businessman was kicked out of the northern club at the end of 2020, leaving him in a fragile financial position. Today, he hopes to buy back the Girondins de Bordeaux and for that, the National Management Control Department (DNCG) must celebrate the viability of its project, Monday, July 12.
Since your stay at Lille, you have included the “trading” of players in French football, an economic model based on the purchase of promising young players in hopes of reselling them with large capital gains. This strategy has allowed LOSC to become champion of France, but is it viable in the long term?
The economic model of French clubs is not sustainable. TV rights, sponsorships and ticketing aren’t enough to balance a club’s expenses, so everyone trades players in without saying it. The difference is that I say what I do and I have industrialized the process. And I do this while being champion of France and qualifying Lille for the Champions League twice in three years, which upsets a lot of people. If I had taken over a smaller club and finished each season between tenth and eighteenth place, no one would criticize me.
Your business activity did not allow Lillee to repay the €225 million it borrowed from the American fund Elliot, which took control of the club. LOSC debt remains high, close to 120 million. So is this a failure?
Not at all, my management was excellent! As head of Lilly, I invested 180 million euros in the workforce and achieved 340 million euros in sales. At the same time, I reimbursed 200 million euros. And, contrary to the claim of LOSC’s new management, the club has no bank loans and was not in default, as a plan was put in place to cover all financial commitments, including the pandemic.
At the time of my departure, only the debt corresponded to investments in third parties (players, agents …), everything else was cleared. From the time I arrived, the club was in a very strong position, with a workforce estimated to be worth €330 million, second only to PSG in France. [le site allemand TransferMarkt le place en quatrième position, derrière Paris, Monaco et Lyon]. In addition, a portion of operating costs is covered by additional income generated by Lillee’s good sporting results.
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