Paris clubs Stade Francais and Racing 92 merger has fallen through, leaving both clubs looking for solutions to their monetary problems.
On March 13th in a joint press conference, Racing 92 and Stade Francais announced a merger of the two teams. The owners of both teams said that the combined team would be able to draw in more fans from the Paris area.
Both teams have struggled this season after winning the Top 14 the past two seasons.
These victories didn’t settled the funding difficulties that the two sides experienced After spending large amounts of money to bring in some of the best players in the world, like Daniel Carter and Leone Nakarawaboth, teams are left short on capital.
The solution was to join forces to pool their resources, but this was not received well. Chris Jones of BBC Radio five stated that “it’s an utterly incredible story, unprecedented and bizarre.”
Players also reacted negatively to the announcement. Stade player Geoffrey Doumayrou commented that the merger was “scandalous.”
Scandaleux ! Une pensée pour les gens qui ont construit ce club , marqué ce club …. je suis triste …
— Doumayrou Geoffrey (@doumgeof) March 13, 2017
The issue did not stop there as the Stade Francais players went on strike to protest the merger. The issue continued on until Stade announced that their match last week would have to be cancelled. However, player issues were not limited to Stade, Racing announced later in the week that their match would too be cancelled.
— Fanny Lechevestrier (@fannylechevestr) March 17, 2017
The Deal Is Off
Sunday afternoon, Jacky Lorenzetti announced on the Racing website that the merger would not in fact be happening.
In his statement he said that:
I decided to give up this beautiful project.
I have heard and understood the strong reservations raised by this plan of union.
I did not realize how important it was to have the need to explain, share my vision and present the modalities in the ranks of Racing 92. I did not expect such resistance, especially internally!
Since then relations between the teams and the players have been restored and both teams will resume play this weekend. With Racing 92 facing off against Clermont and Stade battling Toulon.
Decision To Stop The Merger Necessary For Stade
The decision of the Stade Francais players to strike over the merger caused an emergency meeting by the French LNR. Stade will now be docked two points for their forfeit and their scheduled opponent Castres would be awarded 5 points. LNR also decreed that Stade Francais would be automatically relegated to D2 should they forfeit 3 matches.
The major question going forward for both clubs is that if money was the motivating factor behind the deal, will both teams be able to survive without the merger?
“Main photo credit”