Where it costs nothing to go and watch football, and a more savoury approach


Paris has two league teams.  One you know about, of course, the other perhaps not.

But this other club – Paris FC of the second division in France – has of late urned to Arsene Wenger for a bit of advice as to how they can rise up the table, get into the top division and play local derbies against Paris St Germain.

It is quite a target given that Paris FC has on occasion got crowds as small as 3000 for a league match.

But Paris FC is not doing too badly, although they will be lucky to go up given that they are currently lying fourth in the league, five points behind Angers in second place.  Auxerre, who are top of the league are 15 points in front.

But still,  Paris FC and Arsene Wenger, have come up with a plan to start getting people interested in the “other” team in Paris: free admission to the ground.

That of course will cost the club money, but that is what football has in abundance – or at least that is what the Gulf states have in abundance, and there seems to be no shortage of people from that region (and indeed other parts of the world) who would like to spend it on football.

And so it has come about that investors from Bahrain, have become a minority owner in Paris F.C. along with a few Americans.  And some investors from India have joined in and between them they have got the club on its feet and moving forward.    The training facilities have been rebuilt and overall waves are being made.

Which is not to say that the club is now awash with money but rather that it is on the way out of the doldrums.    There is also the fact that five players in the current squad have emerged from the youth team at the club, and that is attracting more young players.

So does this have anything to do with football elsewhere?   Certainly, as one’s mind is drawn toward Wrexham where the Holywood across Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over the club in 2020.

Wrexham had dropped out of the Football League in 2008 and moved into the National League.  In 2022 they lost in the play offs for a place back in the Football League.   In 2023 they won the National League and got back into League Two.   Last weekend they won promotion again and so will play in League One next season.   It is the sort of story that gives encouragement to billionaires and to supporters of teams in the lower leagues alike.

But of course there is still the fact that the gap to the very top is huge.   Paris FC might make it up one more step and so might Wrexham, but a look at the foot of the Premier League suggests moving up and up is ultimately very difficult


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
16 Everton 32 9 8 15 32 48 -16 27*
17 Nottingham Forest 33 7 9 17 42 58 -16 26*
18 Luton Town 33 6 7 20 46 70 -24 25
19 Burnley 33 4 8 21 33 68 -35 20
20 Sheffield United 32 3 7 22 30 84 -54 16


The bottom three clubs were promoted last season.  Indeed Burnley won the Championship last year with 101 points.   And what drags Nottingham Forest and Everton into the lower reaches of the table is the asterisk after their points total, for both have points deductions.

Everton are of course appealing against their latest deduction in which they were deducted two points for breaking the PSR rules up to June 2023.   It still is awaiting for yet another hearing on the issue of whether interest payments made on the money it borrowed to help it build the new stadium can be excluded from the calculation.

That final hearing on this last appeal will take place after the season is over. although the League might bring that forward to before Sunday 19 May, when the season ends.

But the commission that investigates these things is independent of the Premier League, so it does have the power to do things its own way.  (And incidentally, it was this independence that made Everton’s protests against the League itself with the claim that the League was corrupt, after the first points deduction, seem rather strange.

So we have two movements afoot.   One in which the bigger teams get bigger and bigger, and often more and more in debt, or alternatively owned by the unelected leaders of oil-rich countries who don’t treat the people who build their stadia very well.   The other movement is the one in which rich guys buy little teams and then work with them year by year to make progress, which excites their supporters.

The latter does seem a lot more savoury to me – as long as the clubs involved are not then left to sink back down.

One Reply to “Where it costs nothing to go and watch football, and a more savoury approach”

  1. In theory the financial rules are supposed to prevent clubs getting into ever deeper debt. It’s probably too early to judge how well that works in practice. Whet is curious about the Everton situation is Spurs have spent over a billion on a stadium, almost all borrowed money, without running into any problems at all with interest payments. So what is different about the Everton situation ?

    While a rich individual can make a difference to a small team the sheer weight of money of an oil state, essentially unlimited funds, means they can never compete at that level any more than a big club without oil money can. Hence the need for financial rules.

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