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Sète, a tragedy / France / FC Sète /

Despite a maintenance acquired on the meadow on the last day, FC Sète lost its place in National on the administrative ground. This demotion to National 2 is the result of a battle, opposing for a year the old management on one side and the town hall and the agglomeration on the other. Immersed in a “little Marseille”.

“Tragedy is free. It’s hopeless. This dirty hope that ruins everything. Finally, there is nothing more to try. » Edward Bond would not have denied the history of FC Sète. As in the finest Roman tragedies, the public knows in advance that this is going to end badly. He just wonders when and how the thrust will be delivered. As in 1960, 1989 and 2009, Sète is still overtaken by his destiny: he is demoted for financial reasons. The Hérault club will thus play in National 2 next season.

Staying in Hérault

The scene of this tragedy could have been the Borgo sports complex. But during the last day of National, Sète, led 1-0, won 2-1 and held on sportingly. Administrative demotion requires, the final act therefore takes place at the club’s headquarters, the Louis-Michel stadium. However, scenes of conflict have been going on there for a long time. Old pen of Free lunch reconverted assistant director of cabinet for the agglomeration of Sète, Jean-Michel Izoird has “sounded the alarm two years ago. I felt, but I was not the only one, that some people weren’t at the club for the right reasons.” . He regrets that the club has “closed like an oyster” . But in Sète, you can’t learn that… Jean-François Gambetti, president of the Greens and Whites between 2019 and June 3, has another version: “On April 20, 2021, I was asked to leave, because Ludovic Liron was going to take over the club. We meet on May 15, 2021, and the next day, he calls me to tell me that he is not staying. I don’t know why… This is the beginning of tensions. I was blamed for his departure, whereas until then I got along very well with the mayor (Editor’s note, François Commeinhes, also president of the Sète agglomeration). But what is strong is that Ludovic Liron left on his own! If he stayed and brought money, I left. » Contacted to use his right of reply, the former defender politely declined. It must be said that the air is already quite warm in Sète, at the moment…

A standoff is therefore set up between the public authorities and Jean-François Gambetti, accompanied by his sports director and former referee Sandryck Bitton. Subsidies granted to the club are suspended, a problem for a small club like Sète for which it is the main source of income. “The elected officials held the club to account, because they give public money, they wanted it to be used wisely. Receiving no response from the management, the elected officials suspended the subsidy, because they did not have access to the accounts” , justifies the ex-journalist. The former president of the Dolphins disputes: “Before cutting us off, there was an audit of the club. There was no hole, and we always gave the accounts for the grants. The audit was carried out between March and April 2021, so they had the accounts when they gave us the grant last summer! »

“I made proposals to be 100% at the club, especially towards the end, but they were not heard. It’s a lack of respect. » Nicolas Guibal

Professional coach and head of services at the town hall

Despite a reduced budget, Sète takes place in National. If the 2022 season is complicated on the pitch, it is just as complicated in the locker room. Sandryck Bitton is fired. At the same time arrive Yoni Ragioneri, Patrick Soria and Michel Raynaud. “Initially, they entered the management committee, because they had already helped the club. They had been there for two, three years. Some of these people have done very well at football school. , concedes Jean-François Gambetti. For his part, Nicolas Guibal is the only half-time National coach. “I made proposals to be 100% at the club, especially towards the end, but they were not heard. It’s a lack of respect ” , estimates the head of services at the town hall of Frontignan. He is now only… salaried in this second job: once the maintenance has been acquired, he is not retained and regrets it. “I knew there were some special things going on behind my back.he reveals. This is one of the dysfunctions of the new management. »

At the same time, the former Languedoc president also feels the mistral turning: “I gradually lost influence on the steering committee. I proposed investors, but they were refused by the steering committee. They preferred to keep the hand to get out of it alone… Yoni Ragioneri was put in place by the town hall, because he has good relations with them. » At the beginning of June, lonely, Jean-François Gambetti leaves the ship. Appointed president, Yoni Ragioneri, brewer in the Mediterranean port, says he finds some surprises: “The old management had cash flow problems. The equipment manufacturer Macron gave them 100,000 euros per year, payable in three instalments. But in return, it was necessary to make 250,000 euros of purchase. Which club in France buys 250,000 euros? Other than buying designer leather suits and shoes, I don’t know how. This contract had to be broken. »

Sète, a national problem

Time is running out, and the passage in front of the DNCG is looming. As expected, the arrival of Yoni Ragioneri leads to the return of subsidies from the agglomeration and the town hall, because “he transmits the accounts” , according to Jean-Michel Izoird. The budget is therefore greater than that of the past season, but the club is challenged. “It’s all the slump between my resignation, the way Nicolas Guibal left and the departure of Sandrick Bittonlaments Jean-François Gambetti. The DNCG likes things that last. When they arrived, there were more bonuses, and the payroll was exceeded. Some people thought they knew football better, but they don’t come from that world. »

“How could the DNCG not be aware of this overrun, when each player was signed with his authorization? » Yoni Ragioneri

The financial policeman of football accuses the Héraultais of exceeding the wage bill, accusations of cheating deemed inadmissible by the former and current president of the club as the latter explains: “I’m new to the industry and I learn every day, but I don’t understand how the DNCG couldn’t be aware of this overrun. Each player was signed with his authorization, because the payroll was framed! We were going to have a competitive team to play at the top of the table, in National. Now, we work with about fifteen players who will stay in National 2, but we give ourselves the right to appeal and file a complaint against the DNCG. » Conclusion of a close friend of the club, who sums up these tumults in one sentence: “Sète is a little Marseille, between passion and excess in good and bad…”

By Loïc Bessiere
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