Oval Talk

The fall of Stade Francais

Oval Talk

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Today could potentially mark a monumental moment in European
rugby. For if the Paris giants Stade Francais do not find €6.6m (£5.9m) by the end of
the day they will be declared bankrupt and most probably relegated from the
Top 14.

It
will bring an end to what has been a farcical couple of weeks for the French
club. At the start of June it looked like their future was secure having agreed
a deal with FACEM, a Canadian company, who pledged to invest €12m (£10.7m) into
the club. However, what seemed to be the Stade's saving grace turned out to be
a tangled web of fraud and fake documentation.

Job
Ariste, the president of FACEM, insists he nor his company have done anything
wrong and has said the money will be invested.

"We
were only given two weeks to wrap everything up," Ariste said. "You
have to understand that a deal of that scope can't be done in such a short
time.

"We
already provided financial guarantees. I don't know why people are panicking
over nothing. Once we have a full grasp of the situation the funds will be transferred."

That
contradicts both the Stade owner Max Guazzini and the French police with the
latter already arresting three people charged with organised fraud in
connection with ongoing scandal. Guazzini declared earlier last week that Stade
had been the victim of a multi-million euro fraud.

The
identities of the people arrested remain unknown but are believed to be
connected to FACEM. The Canadian-based business is an investment company which
says it funds projects for underprivileged children around the globe. The
intricacies of their dealings and investments cannot be verified as they are a
business and not a charity.

And it
would appear the money will never come and so Stade will be relegated but they
had problems long before FACEM came along. It is a sad end to a team who rose
from the third division to winning five French titles all in a decade. They
have been the driving force behind the Top 14 becoming the best-paid rugby
division in the world and being able to attract the greatest players.

It is
a stark warning to some of the Aviva Premiership clubs, among others, who are
so desperate to remove the wage cap. Money will not guarantee success and if
you don't use it responsibly it can destroy you as Stade Francais are finding
out.

They
have already had to release the likes of James Haskell, Hugo Southwell, Juan
Miguel Leguizamon and Ollie Phillips. If they are relegated then Dimitri
Szarzewski, David Attoub, Pascal Pape and the inspirational Michel Basteraud
will also make their way for the exit.

The
club is being stripped of all of its assets and the only thing left will be its
name; Stade Francais, which will become synonymous with the boom or bust
culture that is slowly taking over rugby.

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