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Why is LOSC forced to sell its best players every year?

For several decades, LOSC has been forced to sell its best players each transfer window. Will he be able to keep his best players one day? Little Lille offers you answers.

Part 1: The Seydoux period.

Part 2: The Lopez period.

If LOSC is forced to sell its best players each season, it owes it to several factors, in particular expensive infrastructure and questionable sporting choices, which have caused the wage bill to explode. 10 years after its double, the northern club seems to find itself in the same situation: after the sharp increase in expenses synonymous with great sporting performance, the Lille team is not structured to recover from a title. Thus, it pays for it with seasons marked by an austerity policy to rebalance the accounts. But unlike in the early 2010s, the context surrounding this cost reduction policy could well be rather favorable to the Dogues.

Important work to straighten out the club’s finances

Since its arrival at the head of LOSC, the new management team led by Olivier Létang has done real work behind the scenes to straighten out a club that was in a situation of insolvency two years ago. The many pro contracts accumulated in the reserve team are gone. Merlyn’s objective is to have a number of professional contracts below 35. Under Gérard Lopez, LOSC had 57 at the end of 2020. The payroll was around 89 million euros, against 61 today according to The Team last April.

If we can consider last season as disappointing in the league, it is clear that LOSC has succeeded through its course in the Champions League to amass a real jackpot, which undoubtedly allows it to breathe a little financially. Thanks to its qualification in the round of 16, the northern club would have collected more than 65 million euros, a record in its history.

The financial windfall of the Champions League is therefore coming at the right time. Under the reign of Michel Seydoux, the Mastiffs had not been able to enjoy a good run in the biggest of European competitions, being constantly eliminated from the group stages, despite affordable draws, between 2011 and 2012.

It should also be noted that Merlyn arrived in Lille with the aim of increasing LOSC’s turnover to more than 130 million euros per year within 3 years. To achieve this, the owners consider that European football has significant development potential, and that the poor management of certain European clubs may explain their financial difficulties. During the COVID season, LOSC’s sponsorship income was at the level of that of Strasbourg, at around 7.4 million euros. There is no doubt that there is a potential untapped source of income here. In Rennes, Olivier Létang had succeeded in increasing sponsorship income over his three years as president. The future diversification of the northern club’s income is an essential objective to clean up its accounts.

A bright future for French football?

With the arrival of the agreement between the CVC and the LFP, the northern club will be able to benefit from 80 million euros. Ranked in category 3 of beneficiary clubs, LOSC has been rewarded for its consistency at the highest level for more than 20 years. A first payment of 16.5 million euros should take place in the coming weeks. This additional income should not be intended exclusively for salaries, but for the structures and professionalization of clubs. confided Olivier Létang to The Team last April, which goes in the direction of a desire to structure the northern club a little more.

The transition to 18 clubs in Ligue 1 can also benefit LOSC, and more generally the candidate clubs for European places. Their reduced calendar, the candidates for the top 5 will be able to chain European Cup and Ligue 1 matches more easily than before. From a financial point of view, the reduction in the number of teams in the French championship could increase the share of each of the boarders of the elite. The conditional remains in place because the number of matches will also drop, and therefore, potentially fewer TV rights.

Overall, the Professional Football League remains optimistic for the next deadlines with its television rights. Over the period 2024-2028, the LFP hopes to obtain 860 million euros during its next call for tenders, against 624 million euros over the current period. Once again, LOSC could benefit from this favorable situation to stabilize financially.

In 2024, the reform of the Champions League could allow France to gain an additional qualifying place. The top 4 of Ligue 1 would therefore send three teams directly to the group stage of the cup with big ears. The fourth team should go through a barrage. The LOSC is the fourth club of the elite in the 16th century, this reform could therefore be favorable to it. Especially since financially, a club qualified for the new formula of the Champions League would receive more TV rights than before, with the increase in matches to come with the reform.

The same year as the reform, France will host the Olympic Games. Although the indirect economic benefits of this type of event are difficult to quantify, they can help to focus the spotlight on the cities that will host Games events. As a reminder, Lille will host handball and basketball at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

Despite a context which seems rather favorable to them, French clubs will always have a priori difficulty in retaining their best players. The salaries offered in the Premier League or by the biggest European clubs do not allow clubs like LOSC to compete. The enrichment of English clubs should continue in the coming years with the regular increase in their TV rights. In Ligue 1, PSG seem inclined to recruit more from the French league. Some French leaders thus hope to take advantage of a long-awaited “runoff” since the arrival of the Qataris in Paris.

We can however imagine that in better financial health, the Lille club will be able to take more risks on the transfer market. On the one hand, he would not be obliged to sell every summer as has been the case for several seasons. On the other hand, LOSC could afford to attract more courted players. Let’s hope that the northern team continues to monopolize the top of the Ligue 1 table, while continuing its restructuring in the coming years.


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