“You have to understand that we are no longer the Elan Béarnais, insists the mayor of Pau. When the Girondins de Bordeaux are demoted for mismanagement, no one says that the city, which had supported the buyer, is…
“You have to understand that we are no longer the Elan Béarnais, insists the mayor of Pau. When the Girondins de Bordeaux are demoted for mismanagement, no one says that the city, which had supported the buyer, is responsible for what happens. The cases are however different. The Girondins were sold by a private to another private while the Elan was a mixed economy company (SEM) where the City of Pau was the majority shareholder.
“Yes and we could not continue like this, supports François Bayrou. It was still a SEM as is the case of an office HLM, for example. Section Paloise is a private company, Pau FC too. The Elan Béarnais should also be. It was no longer possible. With the sale, the SEM Elan Béarnais had become a professional sports limited company (SASP) in which the City no longer had any shares.
“Always said there was a risk”
More than the sale itself, the critics underline the risk taken by selling the club to an American fund whose ambitions and financial guarantees were difficult to identify.
“If you take my comments at the time, I always said that there was a risk”, recalls François Bayrou. The mayor and president of the Agglo had, in fact, regularly pointed out the unknowns of the project while defending the sale.
Example, January 29, 2021 when the opposition of the Agglomeration was worried about the redemption to come in community council. “It’s a risk, but you can’t govern without taking risks,” replied the president of the Agglo. When you’re conquering the development of a city, if you don’t take risks, you’re dead. […] You have to marry different cultures. But if this project comes to an end, we will recover our initial investment, and even a little more. It is a very original, innovative and ambitious project. »
If by chance, the Elan was indeed demoted, “the city must recover its money”, still assures the mayor today. We are talking about 800,000 euros here (or a little less depending on the discussions started with CSG to re-specify the slate). “It’s in the contract we signed at the time. If they do not honor their commitments, they must reimburse us. We will not give up this money. »
What about other projects?
The city councilor had continued to defend the sale while expressing reservations during the municipal council of June 28, 2021, the one which validated the sale of the club to American investors. “It’s a very original operation, observed François Bayrou at the time. Is it quiet and guaranteed success? No. But we knew that we could not continue to subsidize the club with no funds. The priority was always the same: stop spending public money on a professional sports club.
Another little music has been heard since Thursday. At the time of the sale to the Americans, another more local project carried out by the brothers Thomas and Simon Darnauzan had been rejected by the City. “It did not have the potential surface of the other project, explained François Bayrou in the municipal council on June 30, 2021. It was unimaginable that they would guarantee a 7 million budget from the first year. “The Elan went from 4.8 to 7.8 million with CSG but it is clear that he lived beyond his means.
A year later, the mayor does not intend to dwell further on this local alternative which we understand has never given it much credit. He indicates that a project would be on the other hand under study by other private investors: a takeover of the club before the liquidation and with the debt of 3 million euros.
Such a scenario would only be possible in an emergency since it should materialize before the catch-up oral on July 4 or 5 before the financial policeman of French basketball.