It has been a rather dramatic few days for French Top 14 club Montpellier. It all started when Phillipe Deffins resigned from his role as President after less than a month in office.
Deffins had only taken over the position on December 18th and there were no signs of any problems when he briskly announced that the club would win the Top 14 within three years. It seemed that an ambitious man was in charge of the substantial finances of an ambitious club. Surely nothing would go wrong?
Well, as we all know now, it has gone dramatically wrong. Deffins resignation followed two heavy defeats in the Top 14 – away to Toulouse and at home to Clermont – and the target of winning the league within three years now seems a very distant hope.
As for the reasons why Deffins stepped aside, well it wasn’t just down to the poor results on the pitch. The former president has since revealed that he became aware of the club’s financial difficulties after taking the job.
During a press conference where he explained his decision, he highlighted the ‘financial, legal and fiscal situation’ that Montpellier find themselves in. More specifically, he revealed that not only does the club have a €1.5m debt, but they also still owe €250,000 as part of the transfer deal that brought Australian lock Alister Campbell to the club in November.
So, what now for them? Well, Thierry Perez is back at the helm of the club – less than a month after being replaced by Deffins – and he admits that there are some ‘off-the-field’ problems that need sorting out.
This could land the club in trouble with France’s administrative authorities who are not fond of clubs being unable to balance their books. In reality, Montpellier need some investment from somewhere and by the looks of things – it won’t be coming from Deffins!
As for life on the field, well it isn’t going much better. As already mentioned, they have been hammered in their last two games and although they find themselves in mid-table right now, they are not 100% safe from relegation.
In fact, as a result of the latest crisis for Montpellier, many may be tempted to stick a rugby bet on them sinking like a stone in the coming weeks. Players will be uncertain as to their future at the club, the fans will want to know who is in charge of the finances and let’s face it, the team won’t exactly be brimming with confidence.
Overall, it seems extremely unlikely that the rugby odds will favour Montpellier winning the Top 14 within three years, like Deffins claimed when he joined the club. Perhaps if he knew the financial situation at that stage, he wouldn’t have made such a bold statement.
By Thomas Rooney