ASBH: Is a sports club a business like any other ?

ASBH: Is a sports club a business like any other ?

Robert Ménard, patron de l’ASBH et d’autres actionnaires, partenaires ou patrons de clubs du Biterrois. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

Thursday July 4, the club house of the ASBH association hosted the Midi Libre eco Club in Béziers. Led by the editorial director of Midi Libre, Olivier Biscaye, and Laurent François, journalist responsible for sports at the Béziers editorial office, these two round tables made it possible to collect testimonies of rare frankness. While the first addressed the unique case of the management by a local authority of a rugby club, with a budget estimated in millions of euros, the second offered a poignant diversity of life stories of athletes high levels unequally endowed and financed according to the popularity of the sports they practice. An intense evening, rich in testimonies and cries from the heart.

"In one night 3 years ago, we found 1.2 million euros to save the club", recalls Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers and, de facto, boss of the ASBH through a cooperative society of collective interest (Scic). The municipality which holds two-thirds of the shares and its co-owners will return this July 5 to the lessons to be learned from this management.

A unique case or almost in France – with the exception of a basketball club in Levallois-Perret, in Île de France – which caused a lot of ink to be spilled and also provoked a lot of mistrust, according in particular to the other shareholders present that evening: "I’have been shocked to see historic club partners dragged through the mud for their takeover offer", comments Matthieu Ourliac, president of Caminarem and shareholder of the club. A feeling a priori shared by the rest of the speakers.

Two serious buyers for ten "crooks" ?

This public management which requires regularly reinjecting funds drags on and exasperates the Béziers councilor: "At first I thought that it’ ;was for a limited period. There are a number of wealthy people in this town who keep telling me that they love the club and who haven't given a single penny. So I went to see them all."

Today, the municipality would therefore be in discussion with two potential and serious buyers after having ruled out numerous dubious profiles, potential "crooks" , even "from the Toulon environment", says Robert Ménard, who declares having been warned by a member& nbsp;from the government: "I received a call from a minister who said to me "but you know who are the people with whom you are negotiating at the moment ?"& ;quot;.

Running a club is "Investing irrationally"

Would a serious takeover be enough, as if it had been any company, to make a profit?? Unrealistic, for the mayor of Béziers& ;nbsp;: "Who can tell me today in Béziers, with the ASBH, I will earn money ? This is not true." Matthieu Ourliac agrees: "It’is something in which we rather tendency to invest irrationally, through philanthropy".

And everyone finally agrees on this lesson to be learned from the management of a club: in rugby as in any sport, you have to accept to fail and learn from these failures. Something that they believe the business world should draw more inspiration from.

In the meantime, this year, the club has not lost any money, had a good season in Pro D2 and is already preparing to start again with a vengeance. Robert Ménard finally, called for donations: "I turn towards the rich Biterrois, we must give 50 000 €, l&rsquo ;call is made".

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