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Jean-Michel Aulas: “We have to get people back into the stadium…"

Published on 17 February 2021 at 6:00 PM
Jean-Michel Aulas : « Il faut faire revenir les gens au stade…. »
Jean-Michel Aulas, OL president, presented OL Groupe's 2020-21 mid-year results on Wednesday 17 February, and also spoke about how the club have fared in sporting terms.

The economic impact of the crisis and the decline in the value of TV rights

It’s hard to compare yourself to others. Given our continued investments in the club's structure, the expansion of our sporting vision, and the fact that we have continued to promote women's sport in France and the United States, this all gives us a much greater resilience than some others. This is also why we are aware of our strengths and weaknesses. We are ready to lead and are looking for ways to facilitate the reopening of our infrastructure. We are ready to come back, and very strongly at that. We believe that beyond next year, the next few years should allow us to find ourselves in line with the parameters of the project we've developed over the past 5 years, dating from the opening of Groupama Stadium.

 

 

The impact of the health crisis on the mercato

The situation at the moment requires us to have a realistic approach. At the start of the season we were one of the clubs that continued to invest, but also to strengthen other ways, without spending a transfer fee, by a deal such as the arrival of Islam Slimani. One cannot imagine that our preparation for next season won't be impacted by this period. Being in the Champions League would bring us a potential income that would offset what has been lost this year -- a bit unfairly. Undoubtedly we will have to take into account this very tough economic period in assaying our losses. We have to consider ourselves in another dimension, which is the dimension of liquidity, only clubs that will continue to work hard after COVID-19 has passed will be able to survive. Our cash flow allows us to think about living normally and being able to resist. With these challenging economic times, some others may not be able to. I think there are efforts that can be made cooperatively to ensure that the football industry does not completely disappear.

 

 

A reduction in the number of clubs in Ligue 1

I think UEFA will push for a move to 18 clubs so that the players do not have to play too many matches. The newer international competitions require even more of the international players, and leagues  must move, in the future, to 18 sides. Beyond the ability to play matches, we must also take into account the drop in income from TV rights.

 

 

TV rights

We are thinking about everything that will make it possible to remunerate all the clubs who have qualified for the Champions League. Apart from PSG and Lille this year, the number of points earned towards the coefficient has been negative and this calls into question all the negotiations that we had this summer on the reforms which could have allowed the fifth country in the UEFA coefficient table, currently France, to have four sides qualified for the Champions League. We also hope that the state will change the law that would allow us to have  the contract for TV rights extend over a much longer period like what is done in the NBA or the Premier League.

 

 

The proposed health protocols to facilitate a return for the supporters

We are doing a lot of research on all the initiatives that will allow us to control access at the entrances to the stadium. We are for all technologies: rapid tests, vaccination etc ... 20 to 30% of the population must be immunized. The stadium was also designed for easy accessibility. We are going to offer all this assistance to the prefecture and take inspiration from what is being done in the United States and around the world to get around this current period of difficulty. And we hope to be identified as having a model approach. Football is the most popular sport and all that we have seen has lead to individual and collective situations that are no longer sustainable. We have to bring people back, to the theaters, yes but also to the stadium!

 

 

Staff at the end of their contracts

Today, OL are one of the four clubs who can hope to participate in the Champions League next year, and even aspire to the title. Not only will the current staff remain in place until June 30, but it is also possible that their contracts will be renewed. I always said we would talk at the end of the current year. Making it to the Champions League, or even winning a title, would bring a certain amount of consideration to our line of conduct.

 

 

A decline in the club's payroll

I've met with the players and offered them a degree of flexibility. First, there is possibility of a 25% reduction in salary above the minimum amount that we have set at € 50,000 per month, which would also allow the young players not to be impacted by this significant reduction in wages. The team would also have the possibility, based on the sporting results, to recover all or part of this reduction in their remuneration. We hope to achieve this, which would allow us to reduce and optimize our payroll.

 

 

A tribute to Gérard Houllier

To honor Gérard's memory, three actions have been approved by the Board of Directors. The pitch of the Groupama OL Training Center on which the National 2 and the women play will be named after  Gérard Houllier. Then, we have launched a call for artists for the creation of a fresco that will be located at the end of the Allée des Lumières. Finally, a match with Liverpool will be set up and will involve over the next two years, the men's team and also the women's team.

 

 

Memphis

He is a very talented player who brings solutions that allow OL to compete at the top. He can be a man who brings great happiness to OL. I've always wanted Memphis to stay, we've let him express his ambitions and values. He has been made offers which have so far not been accepted. Until the end of his contract, though, we believe he will renew for next season, and I will be very happy.