Algerian internationals who play in the French Ligue 1 and 2 will negotiate with their clubs’ officials over a proposal to reduce salaries and grants, in the next few days.
This came, on Tuesday, in a statement published by the French National Union of Professional Players (Syndicate), and reported by the local press.
On Tuesday, the French Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) along with club presidents from both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 met with the French players’ union UNFP for the first round of talks that is aimed at substantial salary cuts for players.
Stade de Reims chairman Jean-Pierre Caillot, Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas, Racing Club supremo Marc Keller, FC Lorient boss Loïc Féry and AC Ajaccio chairman Christian Leca represented the clubs in the meeting. The clubs are reportedly demanding a 30% reduction in salaries. The UNFP has not made any comment.
The negotiations highlight how dire the situation remains in French football. The LFP is looking for a new broadcaster to enter the fray after the deal with Mediapro – worth more than €800 million a season – collapsed. Mediapro will pay €100 million in compensation for breaching the terms of the contract with an agreement that no further legal action will be pursued by the LFP, the Inside World Football websites said.
“The LFP had little choice but to take out a €120 million bank loan to cover the parachute payments to the clubs, in addition to the €224 million the league had borrowed from the French government last spring to help clubs handle the economic consequences of the pandemic. French football was one of the few leagues to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season after the global health crisis forced football to shutdown. The government has however said that it will not bail out the LFP over the current rights situation”, it added.
“Matches in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are still being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, continuing the wipeout of matchday revenue that is crucial for many clubs. The contraction of the international transfer market and new restrictions on recruitment for English clubs will likely lead to more revenue loss for French football, where vast disparities already exist between player salaries”.
Several Algerian internationals play in the French championship in its first and second divisions, such as Youcef Atal with Hicham Boudaoui (OGC Nice), Andy Delort (Montpellier), Djamel Benlamri (Olympique Lyonnais), Mehdi Abeid (Nantes), Haris Belkebla (Brest), Alexandre Oukidja with Farid Boulaya (Metz), Mehdi Zerkane (Bordeaux), Karim Aribi and Zineddine Ferhat (Nimes), and former international players such as Ryad Boudebouz (Saint-Etienne), Farid El-Melali (Angers), Maxime Spano-Rahou ( FC Valenciennes), and others.
The French National Union of Professional Players said that it had recently met with club officials and discussed important financial issues.
“The two parties reached a joint decision, according to which it was necessary to reconsider the wages and grants for the first and second Ligue players, to reduce the financial value because clubs have been affected after the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the continuing risks of this pandemic, and also after the recent closure of the television channel (Téléfoot), which was broadcasting the events of the two divisions exclusively and was the main source of funding for the clubs.
For reference, one of the reasons for the disagreements that arose between Saint-Etienne’s club management and the former Algerian international player Ryad Boudebouz last summer was the huge monthly salary (about 2.3 million euros a year), when the management asked Boudebouz to lower the wage or find another club to represent its colours. But the Algerian player insisted on staying and fixing his financial dues, relying on the content of the contract that binds him to Saint-Etienne.