Pierre Ferracci speaks before the start of the new season
With two days to go before the start of the 2023/2024 Ligue 2 BKT season, Chairman Pierre Ferracci talks to us. In this first part, the Chairman reviews the previous season, the move to Troyes and the development of the club’s partnerships.
We’re at the dawn of a new season for Paris FC, with our Ligue 2 team, our women’s D1 and our youth from training centers. Let’s take a look at 2022/2023 season. How would you sum up the year?
Pierre Ferracci: “First of all, I’d say it was a mixed bag for Ligue 2. I think we were expected to be a little higher up the rankings, as we were expecting to be a little higher ourselves. It’s not a disaster, though: we finished seventh, tied sixth on points with Guingamp. We’re in the top third of the rankings, which is nothing to be ashamed of. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that often in these cases, people tend to blame the coach. I think Thierry Laurey did a good job: fourth in the first year of his contract, with play-offs that we remember well, and which could have ended differently. And then seventh in the second year, I think there are teams who would sign for that. Accession to Ligue 1 is a very difficult thing. Le Havre, who are going up this year, and that’s great for them, waited fourteen years to get back into Ligue 1. Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, who were also at the top of the expectations, are staying with us this year, with no doubt some stiff competition.
So, there you have it, it’s a bit disappointing, because we perhaps couldn’t have done better by just one or two places, but that’s anecdotal. But we expected better. In such cases, everyone is to some extent responsible: the coach, but also the players, the sports management, and the Chairman. You must share the successes but also the failures related to our ambitions. Then we have to work and make sure we’re a little better equipped this year, which is the aim of the game.
I think what the Ligue 2 first team lacked last year, was personality and commitment even though there was technical quality. Things weren’t always rosy between the coach and the team, but these things happen even in teams that are doing well, or even better. But this is a high-level sport, and you need total commitment. When there are problems, you don’t start pointing the finger at your neighbor, or the coach, or the sporting director, or the President, in order to avoid talking about your own shortcomings. Once again, everyone shares in what’s been done, and I have no problem taking responsibility for it collectively with all the staff, players, and sports management”.
As far as the D1 (Arkema) is concerned, there’s one more great success, and that’s the fine journey we’ve made in the 2022/2023 season with this new-third-place finish. It confirms Paris FC’s position among the top teams in this D1 Arkema.
Pierre Ferracci : “In D1, it’s a real satisfaction, especially as it’s the second time in a row that we’ve finished third. This qualifies us for the preliminary round of the Champions League, although the draw was a little difficult, but we’ll come back to that later. There’s continuity in the good results. We know that the top two are a bit out of reach. But when you look at the results, particularly in the first leg against Lyon, you can see that we’ve closed the gap a little, even if they’re still ahead. What’s more, the competition for third place was stronger than the previous year, with Montpellier, Bordeaux and especially Fleury, who had a very fine season. Sandrine Soubeyrand’s work with our squad over the last few years has been remarkable. So much so, in fact, that some people have considered her for the French national team. But we’ve found another contender in Hervé Renard, to whom I wish all the best in Australia these days. So, it’s continuity at a very high level, and I think we have the means to continue”.
There was one real downside to the 2022/2023 season, and that was the relegation of our reserve team (from N3 to R1), combined with rather average results for the national U17 and U19 teams. How do you rate this season?
Pierre Ferracci : “It’s not a very good year indeed. First of all, the relegation of the reserve team. Some Ligue 1 teams suffered the same fate as us with their reserve team, which ended up at a regional level. I think we could have done better, because at one point I’d been told we could reach National 2, so it’s more than disappointing. It means we’re safe from anything and we must keep working and not get self-satisfied. I think that may have been the case. Finding a better mix between the young and the more experienced players, and those coming down from the pro team. That’s what a reserve team is for. We need to move forward very quickly.
More generally, for the youngest players (U17 and U19), we mustn’t become obsessed with competition. We’re here to train future professionals. Of course, we have to maintain our position in the U17 and U19 age groups, and we’re doing that. But you have to be obsessed with getting youngsters back into the professional ranks as quickly as possible, for our own club and sometimes elsewhere. We still have a lot of work to do in this area, even if the work done by Jean-Marc Nobilo over the last three years has been quite remarkable. I’d like to take this opportunity to salute him, as he has left for new adventures. He helped structure the whole thing. After that, the transition has to go smoothly, and everyone has to take their responsibilities.
There are always collective responsibilities, but there are also individual responsibilities that we all have to take, so that we can challenge ourselves and work better. So yes, we can do better, and we will do better this year.
“I think that the city services at Charléty need to take better account of what Paris FC is today”
Relocation to Troyes
We’re going to tackle another issue that our fans aren’t too happy about. It’s the unavailability of the Stade Charléty for both our men’s and women’s teams. How do you deal with this kind of problem when you’re Chairman of Paris FC?
Pierre Ferracci: “First of all, we were angry, because I think this could have been avoided with better planning of the work. It’s great that tomorrow we’ll have a hybrid pitch worthy of the name because we’ve suffered so much this year. It’s not the main excuse for the fact that we finished a little lower than planned, but it did play a part. It would have been nice to plan the work in such a way that we didn’t have to play the first four home games in Troyes. I could smile and say that Troyes is the Grand Paris, but it’s a bit far. I think that the city services at Charléty need to take better account of what Paris FC is today. Yes, we’re not alone at Charléty, we share with others, but we’re there all the same. We’re here, at the highest level for the girls, in Ligue 2 for the boys, performing well in all the youth teams.
It’s a bit of a shame to deprive our fans of the first four games. Some of them will be following us to Troyes, and we’ll do our best to support them. But I think we need to show a little more respect for what the club has become, with all the respect I have for the City of Paris, which is also helping us. But perhaps we should pay a little more attention to a club that I hope is on its way to Ligue 1. It’s a good thing we didn’t go up to Ligue 1 this year, I’ll take that with a bit of humor. It would have been a disaster to start with two months away from Charléty.
This will be an opportunity for us to present a development project for Charléty to the City of Paris in September. I know that the PUC (Paris Université Club) has done the same thing. I think our two projects are compatible. In any case, we’ll make sure they converge. We’re truly concerned about the others who occupy the Charléty space, them from an Omnisport point of view and us more from the football side.
What we need to do now, on the City’s side, is to think about what a stadium worthy of League 1 should be. Because we’ll get there one day, and everyone knows that we’ve created the conditions to get there.
So yes, anger and disappointment for our partners, for our shareholders, for our supporters, for everyone who loves Paris FC and everyone who works there.
We could, for example, have been a candidate to organize the preliminary round of the Champions League for the girls at Charléty. It would have been a great game to see Arsenal against Paris FC, if both teams got through the first round. In any case, they would have been great fixtures with four European teams, and we could not have done it. So, we’re going to Sweden for the preliminary round. Maybe we wouldn’t have been chosen, but we would have been a candidate. So that’s a lot of things, a lot of disappointment. But, as we’re always positive at Paris FC, I’m going to salute the fact that we’ll have a very nice pitch tomorrow, I hope. I should point out that I had initially said we’d do it next year, but it wasn’t any better in terms of scheduling.
It just goes to show that there’s a problem that needs to be taken a little more seriously in the relationship between the club and the City services or the Charléty management, who does some quality work but who has shown a little lack of respect. I think that’s the word for what the club has become today”
I’d like to thank ESTAC for the warm welcome they’re giving us at the Stade de l’Aube. Isn’t there a deeper infrastructure problem in the Paris region? When we looked for a fallback stadium, we came up against an infrastructure problem.
Pierre Ferracci: “If we don’t transform Charléty to bring it up to League 1 standards, we’ll have to find a new stadium. I’m not asking for the most beautiful stadium in the world. There are others who can do that. I don’t see where we could play in Ligue 1, in Paris. Jean Bouin is currently taken over by rugby, with a pitch that doesn’t allow us to exercise our footballing skills in Ligue 1 or Ligue 2. It’s open to national level teams, but not to professional clubs. I don’t think it’s possible to share the Parc des Princes with PSG, even though these are happily done in Milan and Rome with historic clubs. I wouldn’t like it if one day we had to leave Paris to find a playing field worthy of what Paris FC will one day do in Ligue 1.
I’m sure we’d be well received in leaving Paris, but that’s another project and it won’t be with me. So, I hope we’ll be able to shake things up at Charléty, because that’s where our roots are today. They are in Orly for training and headquarters, in Déjerine because it’s the historic heart of the club and then Charléty. So, I can’t see us going anywhere else, but we need a little more help to stay at Charléty. And then we assume our responsibilities. When we had the opportunity, with the City of Paris, to dispose of the Orly grounds, we made the necessary investments, most of which were paid for by the club.
We’re capable of doing things at our level, we just need to be helped by being able to move the infrastructures that are in place in Paris today”.
Partners, shareholders and sponsors
As far as the economic side of Paris FC is concerned, how is the club doing?
Pierre Ferracci: “The club passed the DNCG hurdle without any problems, as it did in previous years. Alongside me, we have solid shareholders who are becoming increasingly involved in the life of the club, and that’s great. Not only do they contribute funds when needed, which was the case recently. But they also sometimes have lots of ideas for the club’s development. We’re going to continue to strengthen this aspect and expand our shareholder base even further, if needed. But in any case, we’ll be relying on our current shareholders. I’m thinking of Vinci, who has been with us for nine years and has extended their contract for a further three years. I’m thinking of the Bahrain sovereign wealth fund, and Lyca Mobile. I’m also thinking of Aéroport de Paris, which gives its name to our center. And then there are all the others I can’t mention, which are perhaps less important.
Aésio, for example, who helps us with some important medical aspects for the club. And I’m thinking of all the other smaller sponsors I can’t name, because we’re also making progress with them. The sportsman must give back to them what they bring in terms of financial resources or logistical support in different ways. Sometimes, they also provide medical or nutritional resources, which are very useful for the club’s progress. So, in that respect, we still have some way to go to catch up with certain Ligue 1 clubs. But in any case, in Ligue 2 we’ve achieved something quite satisfactory, which in any case gives us the means to have sporting ambitions. After that, financial resources aren’t everything. You must turn that into sport success, and that’s the job of the sports management, the staff, and the players”.