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The purchase of Paris St-Germain is going to affect the EPL big time.

Following the appointment of Remi Garde as manager of Lyon I suggested I might throw in an article or two about French football.  Here’s the first.

By Tony Attwood

Go back fifteen years and you can see a very clear picture of European football.  Italy, lauded in the 1990s as the home of great football, was being shown live on terrestrial TV.  Spain had been near the top of Europe for some years, but Germany was not there, despite its huge crowds and low prices – because it somehow just too local.

As for English football – after years of inward looking certainty that we could never use foreigners in the English league because “they don’t like it up em”, and the arrival of Mr Wenger and his French players, showed how untrue that was.  The Sky revolution brought the money and ultimately the EPL became the dominant league.

But what of France during this period?   For years the French league had been on the down – and Mr Wenger’s habit of taking some of the best young French players and gathering them together into a English club simply led some French commentators to suggest that Arsenal was a French club playing in the EPL.

By 2000 over three quarters of top French players were playing outside their country.  Yes, they could win the world cup and the UEFA competition of the same type, but the players weren’t playing in France.

In fact it worked like this.  The top French players played abroad – often with Arsenal, and the next bunch who couldn’t get a game for France played for Algeria and in the French First Division.  (I am being cynical of course, but the majority of the Algerian squad in the last world cup were actually born in France and could have played for France.)  As a result in France the youngsters wear Arsenal and Man U shirts, not the shirts of the big three in France (PSG, Marseilles, Lyon).

So what’s new?

What’s new is that a huge investor, on the scale of the investors running Chelsea and Man City has decided not to put money into yet another down and out English team (Blackburn, Bolton, Tottenham, someone like that who hasn’t won the league for 50 years) but instead has put the billions into a French club.  Paris Saint-Germain.

So this summer we have a French club actually able to out bid everyone except Chelsea and Man City for players.  Wages, agent fees, backhanders, transfer fees – anything you like, the money is there to do it (although of course I make no suggestion than any club pays backhanders).

Naturally if PSG go spending their money across the world as Chelsea and Man City do, this won’t help the French League much, but if they bid for players in the French First Division, then it will help the league as the money will move on down the clubs, and of course cause turmoil in the other clubs in their league.  Arsenal, and any other club that fancies a Frenchman might now have a greater problem (which is why once again our world-wide scouting system is such a bonus – we will probably pick up the French player long before PSG, at least for another half a dozen years), but generally the signs are good for France.

There’s a second issue too.  With the purchase of PSG there is the announcement that the great days of English football as the plaything of the idle rich are coming to an end.  The clubs have mega-debts and where they are for sale they are too expensive.  Many still have crumbling relics as stadia, hastily transformed into all-seaters to assuage the rampages of Margaret Thatcher, and the investment all round is just pointless.  For a start you have to outbid Man C and Chelsea all the time.  Where’s the fun in that?

Meanwhile it is difficult to buy into clubs in Spain, and impossible to do so in Germany.  Italy is just a mine-field of debt, political intrigue and the left over feelings of the ref bribing scandal.  Which leaves France.

Looking at France it seems that by the end of the coming season around four teams might be following PSG into the mega-investment league.  In fact so strong is the anticipation of what is about to happen in France that a number of countries where there are no contracts to show French football are now looking at the TV options, securing the rights this year knowing that in two years time it is going to be the place to be.  This extra TV money will start to put France in a much higher bracket financially, and will potentially benefit all clubs.

And as an advance signal it has just been revealed that the TV station Al Jazeera has won the rights to show live matches on Friday and Sunday evenings in France as well as overseas rights.  Other rights have gone to Canal+ as usual, and (interestingly) Qatari TV – and all at a time when just a year ago French football was in crisis because TV revenue was about to collapse.   “No one watches French football now,” was the cry.  Not any more.

The Qatari input is important.  They are going to host the world cup, they have a sponsorship deal with Barce, and now they are the big time owners of Paris Saint-Germain.

So what next?  The story is that another sheikh, not wanting to be outdone, wants to buy Olympique Marseille FC.  There’s even movement in the second division where Florent Malouda has bought Dijon FC for around €1million – nothing in comparison with the big money at PSG, but maybe a little sign.

So what does any of this mean for Arsenal?  Here’s a practical answer…

The story is that we want to buy Gervinho.  He plays for Lille who won the league and cup double in France last year, with Gervinho scoring 15 goals.   My understanding (and you will know if you have read my ramblings before how often I can be wrong on such matters) is that this transfer which was meandering along has suddenly got very hot, because Lille want to buy St Etienne’s winger Payet, and they would do that with the Gervinho money.

But now Paris Saint-Germain also want Payet, and they can easily double the price for him.   So suddenly deals take on an urgency.  It is just the first signs of the revolution.

Here’s a final thought.  There are many clubs in the EPL and maybe even the Championship, that feel that they are ripe for the plucking by someone with mega millions.  Everton is a case.  Not winning much, fairly grotty ground, big debts, lose money every year they don’t sell Rooney.  The hope lingers that this could be the season that someone in the Emirates states will say, “if my brother can have a football club to play with, then I want one”.

But if the word really is out that actually it is France where the real fun is to be had, then things will change.  French speaking north Africa has huge Muslim populations, and this too may be seen as a reason to go French rather than English, with Al Jazeera already picking up some TV rights.

One final final thought.  When Mr Wenger retires from active coaching he could just find his way to being President of PSG.

Interesting times.

Gervinho: nice to see you again

Arsenal is a selling club – and the launch of the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal

Arsenal’s revolution: the story of 1910

48 comments to The purchase of Paris St-Germain is going to affect the EPL big time.

  • WalterBroeckx

    And another twist could be the FFP rules.
    Will Platini still stay strict (with his mouth) when it would have as a result that French teams would not be able to play in the CL?
    Because rich owners mostly mean big losses in the books.

    So will we be witnessing a funeral of the FFP in the next years? The bets are open.

  • WalterBroeckx

    A part of the AAA has gone mad about the why Arsenal hasn’t said anything about Gervinho and why he hasn’t signed yet the other day. They said we are the only team interested and so we just should pay the price.

    If they would have stuck their nose not just in the tabloid gutter press reports we see in the UK they would have read that PSG are on the market and buying players and turning the transfer market a bit upside down in France.
    And they would have read that Lille are trying to buy a replacement for Gervinho (as you mentioned) but that with PSG around the corner the Gervinho-replacement for Lille suddenly wasn’t sure anymore. And this is the reason why Lille is not that willing for the moment to let Gervinho go for the moment.

    Just another example on how buying a player in real life is not as simple as on playstation or whatever computer game that is out there.

  • Dark Prince

    So basically, PSG will become the Bayern Munich of French football

  • Shard

    @Tony

    Why do you say that clubs are difficult to buy in Spain, and impossible in Germany? Dubai have just recently invested in Getafe, an Indian owns Racing Santander, and though I am not aware of takeovers in Germany, surely ever club will have it’s price. Hoffenheim have a rich owner who has contributed to their success in recent years.

    Coming to PSG. They are actually a great club to buy into. They have a huge catchment area. All of the area around Paris pretty much by default follows them. French football is quite interesting. I don’t get to watch much of it, but it seems entertaining when I catch a glimpse.

    Good point Walter, about Platini banning French clubs. I don’t think he’ll ban the likes of ManU, Real, Chelsea either actually.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Shard,
    As many clubs in Germany are fans-owned it is more difficult I think.
    I don’t know how the situation is in Spain but clubs like Barcelona are also owned by the members I thought? Look at the presidential elections every now and then. So I think Sheik Lots Of Money would have to present himself as a candidate to become the housekeeper. And then he could spend the money.

    But I am not that sure about this.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    It nice to see one of Wenger first buys for Arsenal become manager .I quite liked him when he played for us -some nice passes and fine touches .I also remembered him being hacked down
    and kicked in another .Best wishes to Remi and PSG.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    The situation with billionaires in La Liga is complicated by the presence of the domestic giants and the nationality rules that the league has. So whilst you can buy a moribund club, you’ll never get the gates/TV money to compete with the big two, you’ll never attract good enough Spanish players and you can’t just go out and buy 11 Brazilians because you can only field a handful at a time.

  • AdamWarlock

    Remi Garde is currently the manager of Lyon, not PSG.

  • Shard

    @Walter, Woolwich

    I think Woolwich has it right. the constraints come more from the logistics and desirability of the purchase rather than purchase itself I would think. The Spanish League is also having a bit of a struggle with clubs wanting a more equitable TV rights distribution with collective rights sold. No surprise that the big 2 are trying to stop that from happening, but they can’t hold out forever. Maybe then we’ll see some more billionaires taking an interest there.

    Germany I’m not sure about. Are most clubs fan owned?

  • critic

    “One final final thought. When Mr Wenger retires from active coaching he could just find his way to being President of PSG”.

    This thought was revolving in my mind as soon as i started reading the article.

    Nice article. If they don’t allow shawcrossing then i bet french league will be huge and i mean huge…

  • Naren

    Shard,
    Yes, in Germany, all the clubs are owned by fans. Actually, all the clubs must be owned by the supporters to the minimum extent of 51%. That doesn’t mean you cannot buy the club there, just means you will never have autonomy in decision-making. Not something the likes of Abramovich will accept. People have invested money in German clubs but they are the kind who love the club as an institution, not as a toy.
    Two links that agree with each other.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fan-owned_sports_teams
    http://pitchinvasion.net/blog/2010/03/11/fan-ownership-the-bundesliga-model/
    Hope that was useful.

  • To clarify a couple of points:

    I think I did say that it was difficult in Spain, not impossible, for a foreign billionaire to buy, whereas France is a much more open market. If I didn’t, my apologies – it is what I meant to say! (The eternal excuse).

    And concerning Remi – there was an article on the Arsenal History (www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk) site about this, and commenting that he could be the next Arsenal manager if he makes a success of things in Lyon.

    Walter, thank you for the point about the AAA going nuts – it is a typical example of their approach – a simplistic single-notion vision, which says Arsenal and Mr Wenger are stupid but every other football club is clever.

    It rather reminds me of my 3 daughters as 14 year olds. Each of them in turn got to that age and told me that everyone in their class was going to an all-night party in Leicester (20 miles from our home). When I said no, they told me how evil I was and that I was the only father saying no.

    Of course every other middle class father in Rutland was saying “no”, but the girls were 14, and they thought as 14 year olds.

    Now I think of it, let’s rename the AAA the “Under 15s”. A bit insulting, but far less insulting than the insults they throw at Arsenal and Mr Gazidis and Mr Wenger. (Actually maybe we should call them the “Arsenal Supporters – Under 10s Branch”.

    Hot isn’t it? (In the English Midlands at least).

  • Naren

    Tony,
    my comment is not getting displayed and when I try to re-post it, WordPress tells me that the comment has already been posted and hence a duplicate comment can be posted. Please help out.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Naren,

    I think it was because of the 2 links in the comment that it was held back

  • Naren

    Walter,
    okay, thank you. Will it still be an issue in the future if I post two links, now that I got it approved by the moderator once?

  • Shard

    Naren.

    thank you for those links. I didn’t know that it had to be 51% ownership.

    Tony.
    It is what you said. No confusion there.

  • bob

    @Walter, Tony: If we readers are increasingly going to cite and critique and comment on news/media reports and commentary from other blogs (as today’s theme might suggest), would you consider likewise increasing the allowable links – even two – without moderation? Even allowing two would make things easier for posters with a more complex argument. Just to know, are there technical (overhead?) or anti-spam considerations for limiting these, etc.?

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Silent Stan is an interesting case here. He may be the guy who cracks the problem of making money from football. By taking a slice of non core revenues whilst cutting costs, it could be done. Everyone else who has tried recently has failed (in real terms). The market value of Liverpool was probably below what it sold for and MUFC is also overpriced by the Glazers. £1 billion is an awful lot to pay for a loss making business with rising costs. The only way to get those costs down would be to ditch the older high earning players and replace them with cheaper, younger ones of equivalent quality. Sounds familiar…

  • Wrenny

    I’m surprised nobody here has mentioned Malaga, did this news pass under the radar? They were bought by Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani a year ago and this summer have already snapped up Jeremy Toulalan from Lyon, Julio Baptista from Roma and Ruud Van Nistelrooy on a free transfer. Some pretty big names there already, and they’re looking for more.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/742332-malaga-cf-are-los-boquerones-the-next-manchester-city

  • Shard

    @Wrenny

    I had completely forgotten Malaga. Of course. They are also reportedly after one of our reported targets. Ricky Alvarez.

  • Notoverthehill

    Walking around Woolwich must dull the grey matter a little?

    ManIOU is a cash cow and the Glazers will end up owning all the club, by using the profits to pay down the debt over time.

    As for blaming Mrs Thatcher for the all-seated stadia, I thought that was due to the fatalities suffered at Hillsborough? There is an old Devonian saying “a man who knows he is a fool, is just a fool, a man who does not he is a fool is a double fool”

  • Abhishek Kumar

    Something is not sounding good… BBC reports that Arsenal is willing to sell Cesc and it seems its not a tabloid news..

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/13928823.stm

  • frodo

    cesc gone! bbc/

  • Shard

    How is that anything new frodo? if Barcelona pay up, we sell. We’ve known that for months now.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Notoverthehill
    What profits? All I see are spiralling costs, revenue streams at near saturation and still they’re making losses. Now if someone were to come along and plough enough money into the club to eliminate the debt whilst providing the Glazers with a nice profit, they’d be sitting on a gold mine, sure enough. The trouble is, if you’re smart enough to afford to buy ManIOU, you’re smart enough to wait till the Glazers are so deep into debt the banks force them to sell, as John Henry demonstrated with Liverpool.
    “Thanks Malc for growing all the revenue streams, we’ll take it from here”

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    @Shard
    Media spin alert! Notice how the source that claims they’d sell is unattributable? That’ll be because it’s bullshit.

  • Oh you naughty readers, taking my carefully researched article and then sending in comments about something else.

    But since you have done, the BBC has nicked my earlier article on the fact that there has been a decision at Arsenal that they could sell if Nasri resigns, because of problems over the comparative wages paid.

    But there is another issue, which you are choosing to ignore…

    A report yesterday that there is a circular doing the rounds at Barca telling staff to cut down on their photocopying to save money. Now why are you not quoting that one – it was on the BBC too.

  • bob

    @Tony: If PSG becomes a new behemoth, and more oil profits get splashed into transforming lesser clubs into major clubs, and it all generates an upward spiral in player prices and severely challenges/defeats any high-level attempts to cap them, then are you saying that only a first-rate academy and a first-rate scouting system will see us through? (And, with such new mega players, the price of acquiring new young gunners will also rise.) Are you indirectly saying that these are where Arsenal MUST invest, and not venture into the transfer window now, or starting next year, or ever? Or, alternatively, should we beseech Usmanov/Kroenke to compete with the Sheeks? Or what. One way or the other or another, there are implications to your analysis which you might want to suggest, just to stir this pot some more, so that people could focus and weigh in on the implications you draw.

  • Arsene Wonka

    Hopefully they will bid for Clichy, Squillaci, Diaby, Traore and Sunu – 5 French players that could really do with returning to France, £25m will be lovely and i will pay for the Eurotunnel.

  • Anne

    @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    Thank you for pointing out the dubious sourcing on that claim in the bbc, and saving me the trouble of having to do the same 🙂 And while we’re speaking of “dubious sourcing,” what of this 27 million dollar offer that Barca allegedly made last week?

    I’ve been through the news archive on Arsenal.com, and no news of this “offer” is anywhere to be found. Now, when Barcelona DID make an offer for Cesc last summer, what we saw was that FC Barcelona formally announced the offer had been made, Arsenal formally announced that it had been received, then Arsenal formally announced that it had been rejected, and then formally responded with an announcement along the lines of “we accept your decision and thanks.”

    Where this latest offer is concerned, however, we’ve had no indication of any formal statements from either club. Now, why would that be? If neither club announced the offer, how do we know it was made in the first place? Oh…here we go:

    “Barcelona president Sandro Rossell made the offer to Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis. But the bid from the European champions was immediately rejected, THE SUN reports.”

    Ah, so the responsibility for making this “formal” announcement fell to the Sun, did it? Let’s see what they had to say:

    “Barca president Sandro Rossell made THE VERBAL offer to Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis.”
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/3655872/Barca-bid-27m-for-Arsenal-skipper-Fabregas.html#ixzz1QQe8XtXu

    Lol. A VERBAL offer? As if. Don’t waste your time believing this one, people 🙂

    @Tony:

    I’m very sorry for going off topic with this post, and I mean no disrespect. But since it had already been brought up, and since I think that articles like this are seriously disrespectful to Arsenal fans in general, I couldn’t resist the temptation to clear it up. Again, sorry.

  • Anne

    @Tony:

    I really enjoyed this post on the French league, because I have been curious about them for a long time. Where I live, watching the French football league is completely impossible. But I’ve long been impressed at the quality of players that Arsenal has been bringing over from France, and I was particularly impressed with Lyon’s performance in the CL as well.

    People like to call Arsenal “Barcelona lite” (a title which I reject outright for many reasons), but I’ve long wondered to what extent Arsene Wenger was drawing his strategy with Arsenal from his own experiences with the league in his native country.

    Great article, good information. Thanks 🙂

  • Anne

    @Tony:

    “let’s rename the AAA the ‘Under 15s.’”

    Personally, I think that title might be a little bit too kind for them. I was absolutely furious to see that a so-called Arsenal blog, le-grove, has actually just posted Denilson for sale on ebay.

    http://le-grove.co.uk/

    And now someone has put Cesc up for sale as well. Predictably, the British tabloids are up and running with this one now. And I just can’t even comprehend how anyone who calls himself or herself an Arsenal “fan” could do that to their club. Personally, I have my doubts that these people even ARE Arsenal fans, as opposed to a bunch of jerks who just like to make themselves feel good by putting others down. I think that “fake fans” would be a better title for these people than the “under 15s”

  • bob

    @Anne: As a media hound, my visits find that LeGrovel is smart-and-vicious. Red meat served up hatefully for an avid echo chamber. The one exception, in our context, was their lead attack dog’s rapture over Arsenal’s win vs. Barca; when he pointedly took back ALL of his attacks on Arsene and praised him. (Yes, he did.) But as soon as Arsenal failed to win our next match (perhaps a tie in the FA or Carling) he returned more vicious and xenophobic as ever toward Arsene, who he vilifies to the max (polite term). His slime is fobbed off as just a manner of speaking; and any objection to it is sneered away as ‘girly’ and being ‘politically correct’. Basically, a sexist, xenophobic e-shock-jock; who is somewhat counter-balanced (by design) by the more mature site-owner/editor. They aren’t stupid and thus, dangerous in keeping their hate-Arsene swill at full boil. And, for full disclosure, I’m proud to say that I’m in semi-permanent moderation – as in Censored – for having detailed, more than once, how this pit-bull was xenophobic, racist and Ultra-tribalist.

  • bhalu

    @bob – their views are cos of arsenals failures

  • bhalu

    The most likely transfer so far this summer is Fabregas to Barcelona. So far Wenger has huffed and puffed and done absolutely nothing but lets not panic shall we ? So what if we lose our best player – we have got Rosicky, Denilson and Diaby so where is the problem ? And there was us worrying over nothing…….

  • bhalu

    so assuming todays news is true and cesc can go for the right price….hardly surprising.however its easy to see how barca have tried to play this now.they want him…. a lot.they are claiming to not have the budget to meet our price and are therfore hoping that cesc will try and force the move by kicking up enough fuss about it and thus driving the price down for them.now we need to think about what is the ‘right price’.in all fairness given the current market prices there is no doubt we could command 50-60 million if we sold him to city.we wont get that.barca claim to have a budget of 30 million for him.the way i see it wenger should say that we value cesc at much more than that so we will take the 30…all of it and then you can make the rest up in players and not 3 15 year olds who they can buy back in 5 years time.proper players.if they dont like that then cesc can stay until his contract is up.we cant let them bully us into selling at a knock down price.they have unsettled our players year after year and we have to lose our best player then we absolutely must get the right deal for us.

  • bhalu

    I feel bad for the unlucky one who accidentally wins the bid Shocked

    come to think of it thats probably how wenger bought him in the first place

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Let’s see, €45 million transfer fee, €8 million a year salary, nice warm spot on the bench. Sadly for the AAA the most likely transfer is Oxlade-Chamberlain. Gervinho might come, he’d be welcome if he did, otherwise promote Afobe (an Arsenal player Barca really tried to sign) to LWF cover instead.

  • Anne

    @Shard:

    Are you still around? I finished my research and got back to you on that earlier thread with my results.

  • Jas777

    My question is why is Silent Stan owing a football team in London when he has no interest whatsoever in Football? The only reason I can think of is to sell it for a profit down the track. And surely with Arsenal being in one of the great cities of the world then it will sell for a pretty penny.

    Of course the only thing not in his favour is it isn’t a one team city like Barcelona or Madrid, Paris etc.

  • Shard

    @Anne

    I took a break yesterday. Will take a look 🙂

    Regarding Legrove, they apparently really are Arsenal fans, but they are people I have no respect for. It’s one thing saying the things they say about the club. It’s quite another to censor all forms of dissent from their stated train of thought. An Arsenal blog where you can have an opinion they say. Hypocrites, who know they are standing on weak ground and are unwilling to debate it for that reason. The smug look on the Le Grove guy’s face when he asked some stupid question Gazidis about ‘poor management decisions’ simply sums them up I think. S*** stirrers.

  • bob

    @halu: sorry to ask, but are your little short-hand begs this question: are you explaining? describing? or justifying? LeGrovel’s racist, xenophobic and Ultra-tribalist views? To me, even if we were relegated, that would not justify the way that Legrovel puts it out there. What do you think?

  • Anne

    @bob and Shard:

    Interesting insight on LeGrove. I don’t know a lot about them because they’ve never posted anything that I was interested in reading (that I’m aware of). Aside from their most recent “ebay” campaign, at least, which I only looked at because it made me so angry that I was ready to start throwing things at them. Credit to them, I guess, for generating a hit from me 🙂

    If you guys say that they are in fact real Arsenal fans, I’ll take your word for it. I guess that all this AAA stuff is just introducing me to a bew dimension of “fandom” that I never knew existed, and which I have difficulty comprehending.

    Oh, and Bob, interesting that you point out how much credit they gave Arsenal for defeating Barca in the CL. I’m glad to know that SOMEONE gave Arsenal as much credit for that victory as they deserved, although why they would have subsequently changed their tune is beyond me. Do they not realize that, had it not been for the RVP sending off, Arsenal would have ELIMINATED Barca from the CL last season? But no credit for that, I suppose…

    I don’t know…I guess all this AAA stuff is proving to be beyond my powers of reasoning 🙂

  • bob

    Anne,
    LeGrovel wants to oust Arsene. They are completely up front about it. The rabid one of the two was so over the top in his pre-Barca hatred for Arsene that he did a massive turnaround and (to the shock of some of his even more rabid readership) said that Arsene had been right all along, and that it was time to do a mea maxima culpa and a climb down. When Arsenal started to draw the FA and Carling, he was able to readjust and redouble his Wenger-out campaign and continues in that vein. But they are Arsenal fans; its just that they are willing and able to push it in ways that are xenophobic, etc., while acting like it’s not really xenophobic because they are equal opportunity abusers of anyone who give a piss-poor performance on the pitch. Anyway, my last blast on this theme as it’s more than they deserve and I wear my lifelong banning from that site with pride.

  • Anne

    @bob:

    I’m also proud of you for your lifelong banning from that site 🙂

  • C4

    There’s actually a few places that simply won’t allow a sensible comment, like caughtoffside, among many others. I’ve never successfully posted there. And I’ve never bothered with Le Grove, it simply wasn’t worth it.
    So I no longer waste my time trying to show those Under 15’s the light. Whoever taught those neanderthals to use a computer deserves more titles than SAF.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    As far as Germany goes, there is a 51% ownership constraint AND more importantly, the Bundesliga requires that ALL teams end the season with a balanced budget! What that means is that any investment in the club must be moderated, since the BLS considers big money purchases as part of the debit side of the business which can’t be written off as long-term debt or hidden in the books. I was in Stuttgart for a number of years and followed the local team both soccer-wise and managerially. I was surprised to see how closely scrutinized they were by the Bundesliga AND the federal government, not to mention the Baden-Wuerttemberg finanzamt or State tax authorities. I worked in an International School where one of their players sent his kids and had occasion to speak with him (he was Mexican and as a Spanish speaker I was able to chat)and he said that the Club had to sell their best striker to Bayern in order to meet the balanced budget regulations. Had they not done this, he said they’d have been prevented from starting their season until they had shown the League that their books were balanced. By the way, the Bundesliga is one of the best run and financially solvent Leagues in Europe.