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Press and Internet Review, All about the PSG in English (Only Articles, No Comments)
parcdesprinces
posté 01/08/2011 11:24
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PSG = Pastore, Sirigu & Gameiro



Back in the early mid nineties I enjoyed watching some French football. As a Rangers fan I hated Marseille but I liked seeing PSG and then Monaco. PSG were an exciting but also strong with top players like Youri Djorkaeff, Alain Roche, George Weah, Bernard Lama, Paul Le Guen and the very gifted Brazilian Rai. Monaco then came on the scene complete with young stars like Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet as well as those two the has a Scot in john Collins and had players like Enzo Scifo, Sylvain Legwinski, Fabien Barthez and Sonny Anderson who I admired from a far. Then my French appreciation declined when Lyon dominated in Ligue 1.

Well now in 2011 as the new season gets ready to start, my interest has been rekindled. PSG have been bought over by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) who are owned by Crowned Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Now I will concentrate on this new Parisian revolution in this article but I should mention that this exciting 2011/12 Ligue 1 season will not involve Monaco as they were relegated at the end of last term… Things certainly have change in France.



Now Qatari influence has been creeping into world football for a few years now The Qatar Foundation became the first sponsors of European champions Barcelona in a deal worth a staggering $200m , they tried to buy Manchester United, Their TV network Al-Jazeera has bought up a lot of TV rights over the world, then there was their successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup and the recent fiasco with FIFA which led to Qatari official Mohammed Bin Hammam being banished from the far from squeaky clean world football governing body.

So its no surprise they have now acquired a European club but has the decision to buy PSG been a surprise?

Well in some ways yes and in others no.

First why yes?

Well the Qatari people love to make the biggest impact so people may have thought that the would go into the Spanish, Italian or English markets with Everton being obvious targets. These leagues give ultimate exposure and have been dominating European football for almost twenty years.

So why no?

Well by purchasing Paris Saint-Germain and by running them properly they will expect European/Champions League qualification each and every season. In France there are less financial competitors to worry about. Ligue 1 has always been a very good league and a place were stars hone their skills before becoming world class talents. Then there is Paris itself, one of the worlds top top cities yet their team have never totally dominated European football. So that is the challenge make a team from the beautiful French capital beat the likes of Barca, Man Utd, the Milan sides and Real Madrid on a regular basis. The city and money can attract top players as it has before but this time they will be able to keep them too!



So what can PSG fans expect now?

Well the new owners have not been slow in getting their new project up on its feet. After helping the club to a top four finish last season former player Antoine Kombouare has kept his job as First Team Coach. I hope he remains there as he is a talented boss who gets the players playing for him. I remember Antoine joining Aberdeen for a few years towards the end of his career and even then he was coaching the players around him and organising the defence in a very structured fashion. He has passion for his job and he seems like a deep thinker. But his new employers have brought in another former PSG player to help him out in the form of former AC and Inter manager Leonardo. An appointment which will surely have Kombouare sleeping with one eye open and he will only truly be satisfied that his job is not already the Brazilians when he gets through a bad spell of results without being sacked.



Leo has came in as Sporting Director, a job he preformed at AC Milan for a few years and for me a job that is more suited to forty-one year old. His links in Brazil and Italy are extremely strong and his ability to spot a player are fantastic just look at the job he did in bringing in Kaka, Alexandre Pato and Thiago Silva to AC. All three counted Leo as a reason for going to Milan. He also becomes very friendly with the players which is maybe why he wasn’t totally successful as a coach as you need that distance, although his tactics could be called into question too. As a Sporting Director he can spot which players to bring in, become their confidant and not interfere with first team affairs and by doing that he be a huge success in Paris. The fact he speaks at least six languages helps immensely as well.

Look out for the French giants now being linked with Neymar, Ganso and Sao Paulo’s Lucas in the future as the QSI will hope Leonardo can persuade some of his countries next generation superstars to join him in Paris.



Leo has already used his links to great affect with Jeremy Menez, Mohamed Sissoko and Salvatore Sirigu all coming in from Serie A. They have also added established Ligue 1 stars with French Internationalists Kevin Gameiro and Blaise Matuidi joining from Lorient and St-Etienne. With those players joining the likes of Mamadou Sakho, Peguy Luyindula, Mathieu Bodmer, Sylvain Armand and Nene then surely PSG were always going to challenge current champions Lille, Lyon and Marseille for next seasons championship.

But the QSI group wanted to make a major statement, they wanted to purchase that marquee signing that would make the whole of European football sit up and take notice. So Menez is talented, Sissoko will strengthen the midfield and Sirgu is a keeper with a huge future but Leo and the Qatari owners needed to make a splash that would get everyone talking.

They took a look around the globe and decided to do battle with Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea for the signature of Argentine International Javier Pastore. They were already dealing with Palermo supremo Maurizio Zamparini over the purchase of Salvatore Sirigu and came up with a £39m deal to be paid in three instalments which the Italian club accepted. It was reported that a similar bid from the London side was also accepted and it was a choice between the two for the twenty-two year old. If true then Paris offered a more suitable package to Javier as it looks like the attacking midfielder will be paraded as a PSG player this week. The deal created the desired affect as all of the football world are now talking about Paris Saint-Germain and their new squad.

So why would Pastore sign for PSG ahead of Chelsea?

Well as cities there is not a lot to choose between London and Paris. Money would be very similar. As projects PSG’s is new and looks exciting with owners up for the challenge of making their side one of the best in Europe, while Chelsea’s look a bit stop start with a lack of direction. At PSG Pastore comes in as the top player and like Rai back in the 90s he can expect most of the attacks to come through him, at the Blues he would not be the main man and would be forever battling with the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres for the headlines. Even when negotiating with Palermo, you had a sense that Chelsea really wanted Spurs midfield maestro Luka Modric and maybe Javier got that sense and decided to make the move to France. Plus there is that man Leonardo who Pastore would have met and probably fell in love with!

Their is a new Arab revolution in European football with PSG, Man City and Malaga all splashing their oil laden cash but maybe the purchase of the Parisian club has been the most astute as they were already a big club in their country, have a European history and are probably the most likely to win their league first.

The Ligue 1 championship will be the main target for this maiden season for the mega-rich new owners but a top three finish will get PSG a Champions League spot which is the minimum they want this campaign. But the main aim is to challenge for the top Euro honours which they hope to be doing in within five years.


http://www.thefootyblog.net/
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laleto
posté 01/08/2011 14:42
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Really neat article from an interesting blog, and through them I found a "French Football Weekly" that is quite impressive.
Kudos to them for the work.

And since we're all the rage in the foreign press, FourFourTwo has us featured in one of their writers' blog:
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Bob
posté 01/08/2011 14:45
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Citation
The galactiques of Paris seek to put French football back on the map

Monday 01 August 2011 12:44

Graphic designers have taken to neatly incorporating a red oil drill into the design of Paris Saint-Germain’s logo. The decision of Qatar Sports Investments [QSI] to extend its already impressive portfolio with the purchase of a 70 per cent stake in the club for a reported €50 million has unsurprisingly been the main topic of discussion in France this summer.

The Emirate’s continued acts of ‘diplomacy through sport’, a term used by the economics professor at the Sorbonne, Frédéric Bolotny, didn’t stop there either. In addition to their surprising move to capture the overseas rights to Ligue 1 from 2012 until 2018, the Doha-based TV network Al-Jazeera, also won a package of the domestic rights to show two games a week from 2012 until 2016 for €90m per year.

Nasser al-Khelaïfi, the suave head of Al-Jazeera Sport who is set to become the President of Paris Saint-Germain, insisted during an interview with L’Équipe that “if the two acquisitions coincide, it’s purely chance,” but many are sceptical.

In general, however, the emergence of the Qataris has been welcomed. “It’s a very good thing for French football,” claimed Lille President Michel Seydoux. “I always rejoice when important people are interested in our game,” added Jean-Michel Aulas, his counterpart at Lyon.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the ruling al-Thani family has tried to buy Paris Saint-Germain. In 2006, they were invited to the negotiating table when Canal + put the club up for sale. Hostility from the Mayor of Paris and his assistant, who called the Qataris “exotic”, meant the deal fell through and Paris Saint-Germain ended up in the hands of the American fund Colony Capital instead.

The atmosphere has since changed. “The Qataris have arrived at the right moment,” wrote France Football editor in chief Rémy Lacombe. Last month a report revealed Ligue 1 clubs are €114 million in debt and even with the entry of Al-Jazeera following the retreat of Orange from the TV rights market, the new deal entitles them to €158 million per year less than its predecessor.


A Qatari and a Brazilian walk into a French football club...

It’s certainly no exaggeration to say that French football is crying out for fresh investment and hitherto its efforts to entice have floundered. “Today most clubs in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are looking for a majority or minor shareholder,” admitted the director general of France’s union of football clubs, Philippe Diallo. “But with the financial crisis which has been raging since 2008, it has been difficult to find cash.”

According to an investigation by the magazine So Foot, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy intervened to help Paris Saint-Germain. A well-known supporter of the club, he met Sheikh Tamin al-Thani at the Élysée palace on November 23. Michel Platini was also invited. “He told me that the Qataris were good people,” recalled the Uefa President. Ten days later Platini voted for Qatar to be awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup.

A ‘special relationship’ had been formed, one that So Foot claim would impact upon Paris Saint-Germain. By now Qatar has become a privileged partner in the French economy. They hold interests in some of the country’s biggest corporations like Total, Air Liquide, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company and literally helped get the project to build the A380 airbus off the ground.

Paris Saint-Germain would be a drop in the ocean. After the Qatar Foundation agreed a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Barcelona worth €160 million and Abdullah Bin Nasser al-Thani’s purchase of Malaga for €36 million, it fits perfectly with the Emirate’s project of garnering visibility and most importantly of all legitimacy in the eyes of the football world ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Still, some sceptics have persisted with the question: why Paris Saint-Germain?

Isn’t it obvious? “Paris Saint-Germain have an enormous potential,” al-Khelaïfi explained. “They’re also the only club in a capital city, which can count on a population of 12 million people. It’s something unique.”


Sarkozy and Sheikh Tamin agree 'him with the sword' would be a good signing

Factor in the low cost of the operation in comparison with recent Premier League acquisitions, the low barriers to entry in comparison with members-owned clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona, the absence of the 51 per cent rule that distinguishes the Bundesliga from its competitors, and it’s not difficult to see the allure.

Funding is also available to renovate stadia in light of France winning the rights to host Euro 2016, with the Minister of Sport Chantal Jouanno announcing that the government will contribute €10 million towards the refurbishment of the Parc des Princes.

Plus this is Paris, a city renowned for its beauty with a much greater appeal to prospective players than some of the other nouveau riche clubs splashing the cash. It’s not the Dagestan of Anzhi Makhachkala and the rain is perhaps more bearable in Paris than in Manchester.

But what about the football? Yes, while at the moment the standard of Ligue 1 may not be equal to that of La Liga or the Premier League, it’s certainly hoped that Paris Saint-Germain will bring the spotlight back on to French football and with it other ambitious investors.

The charming al-Khelaïfi has also downplayed fears that QSI’s interest in Paris Saint-Germain only extends until the 2022 World Cup. “There is not a fixed date for the resale of the club,” he insisted. “10 years? 20 years? I don’t know. I repeat it’s a long-term commitment.”

Everything so far indicates that the Qataris are serious. “We know how to spend our money,” al-Khelaïfi smiled. “We are not here to throw money out of the window, but to realise well-thought out and effective investments.”

The appointment of Leonardo as the club’s new director of sport or ‘super manager’ gave an impression of that shrewdness - first of all from a PR perspective, as it showed if not an intimacy with Paris Saint-Germain’s history than an understanding that the decision would be popular with the fans considering his 14-month spell at the Parc as a player in the mid to late `90s and that performance against Steaua Bucharest (video below).



Second, the multi-lingual Leonardo suited the role given his time as a director at Milan. He brings expertise even if there are suggestions that his part in the signings of Kaká and Alexandre Pato have been overstated.

Leonardo is by now the face of Paris Saint-Germain as the previous President Robin Leproux has found out to his cost.

Initially assured of his position by al-Khelaïfi, the man who did such a courageous job in sanitising the Parc last season by ridding it of a nefarious hooligan element with his ‘Everyone PSG’ initiative, soon recognised that his powers were reduced to such an extent following Leonardo’s arrival that his exit was inevitable.

The future of coach Antoine Kombouaré, though guaranteed ahead of the start of this season, is also uncertain with some in the French media believing that while Arsène Wenger isn’t a realistic target at the moment or in the short-term, a project such as Paris Saint-Germain’s could be enough to one day lure him away from Arsenal.

Instability lies not just in the dugout, but in the dressing room too. “The group is working but we’re not 100 per cent in our heads,” Kombouaré confessed. “I can understand what the players are thinking when they see certain signings coming in.”

Take Nicolas Douchez as an example. The 31-year goalkeeper brought in from Rennes agreed to join on a free transfer before the takeover and could expect to become Paris Saint-Germain’s No 1. Since then, Leonardo has drafted in Salvatore Sirigu, the Italy international from Palermo and any certainty that he had of becoming a regular is gone.


Douchez - the goalkeeping equivalent of a straight-to-video movie

Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain have, as expected, upgraded and rejuvenated the squad to such a degree that they can’t but be considered anything less than genuine title contenders if not favourites for their first championship since 1994.

Kombouaré finally got his man, Milan Biševac, the Serbia international defender with whom he formed a close bond at Valenciennes. Jérémy Ménez has replaced the departing Ludovic Giuly and Blaise Matuidi the retiring Claude Makélélé. They have both been joined in midfield by the injury prone Momo Sissoko.

Last season’s rather impotent attack of Mevlüt Erdinç and Guillaume Hoarau has also been bolstered by a move for Lorient striker Kévin Gameiro, the closest thing Ligue 1 has to David Villa with 39 goals in his last 71 games, and reports this morning claim a bid has been lodged with Manchester United for Dimitar Berbatov.

The transfer strategy is clear. “We are not going to buy 10 Messis, that’s not how you build a team,” Leonardo said. Indeed, the pursuit of players like Ménez and Gameiro both of whom are lifelong Paris Saint-Germain fans - the latter growing up with a poster of Marco Simone on his bedroom wall - is a conscious effort at fostering the spirit embodied in Mamadou Sakho, the team’s 21-year captain, who was born and raised in the city and came through the club’s academy.

“We are not trying to recruit Lionel Messi, but we want to invest in the greatest talents of tomorrow and, among them, there will be French players,” al-Khelaïfi added. “We want the new Messi.” The reported €40m plus signing of Palermo’s Argentina international playmaker Javier Pastore, a French transfer record, suggests Paris Saint-Germain have sensationally already realised that objective.

How the 22-year-old trequartista corresponds exactly with Kombouaré’s preferred 4-4-2 formation - a hallmark of his coaching career so far - remains to be seen and raises questions. For instance, is it evidence that Kombouaré wasn’t consulted on the transfer? Probably not. Or is it a sign that his opinion matters less than that of Leonardo when it comes to recruitment? Perhaps. The fans, however, really couldn’t care less, not with rivals Marseille all but waving the white flag.

“We have to call them the galactiques of Paris,” said the OM President Vincent Labrune. Indeed, with backers like QSI, Paris Saint-Germain are on another planet.

James Horncastle


http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/thefrenchconn...on-the-map.aspx
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macbath
posté 05/08/2011 18:21
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Citation
Qatari takeover heralds new dawn for Paris Saint-Germain



Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez are two of PSG's new signings

Historically Paris has experienced its fair share of revolutions and this summer it witnessed another - the takeover of perennial underachievers Paris Saint-Germain by Qatari investors.


Qatar Sports Investments - established in 2005 by son of the Emir and heir to the Qatari throne, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani - bought a 70% stake in PSG on 30 June and quickly installed former Inter Milan coach Leonardo as general manager. Now PSG are threatening to do in France what Manchester City have been doing over the last couple of seasons in England - blow all and sundry out of the water when it comes to the transfer market.

This week, in the run-up to the Ligue 1 kick-off at the weekend, PSG were close to smashing the French transfer record by signing Palermo's Javier Pastore for 43m euros (£37.4m).
Even leaving the 22-year-old Argentine playmaker aside, though, the Parisian club have invested more than £37m on new players this summer - three times as much as champions Lille.

"PSG could be in a league of their own for the next five to 10 years," Liverpool's French director of football Damien Comolli told BBC Sport, while Arsenal scout Gilles Grimandi simply said: "They are now on another planet."

The mystery is why it has taken so long for PSG, who last won the title in 1994, to attract serious money. Key to PSG's appeal is the fact that Paris is unique for a city of its size in having only one professional football club.

"If you look at popular collective sports around the world there is not one club... that fits into the middle of an area with roughly 10-12 million inhabitants and has absolute exclusivity on [its] market," Comolli told BBC Sport.
The attractiveness of Paris as a capital city will also help to lure new stars, with Comolli arguing Pastore's signing is a taster of PSG's future player recruitment strategy.

"Pastore is a marquee signing for PSG and French football," said the former Tottenham and St Etienne director of football. "He is a very, very talented boy. He could have a massive impact at PSG and in French football. PSG looked at Ganso and Adel Taarabt, but they decided to go for Pastore. The strategy to go and buy younger players, who could become world stars like Pastore, is the right one. The Premier League or the Spanish will be a lot more attractive for [established] players. I think a top player will always want to play for Liverpool before PSG because of its history and the Premier League's competitiveness."


PSG's transfer strategy is to target younger stars like Javier Pastore


The other mystery surrounding PSG is why the club has historically failed to exploit the riches of young talent on its doorstep. "It's one of the most important catchment areas for player recruitment, not only in France or Europe, but in the world," added Comolli. "Just look at the French national team - 80% of the players come from the Paris area. It's funny - the very talented players from Paris don't play for PSG. They play for Rennes, St Etienne or Lyon, like ex-Lyonnais winger Hatem Ben Arfa, who was born in Paris."

"PSG had a reputation for not producing players. And players from their academy would never have a chance to play in the first team. But PSG's under-17s have won the league as have their under-19s [last] season. They now look much stronger in youth development. At those ages the key thing is not to win titles, but to bring players through. However, they are on the right track."

But Grimandi warns that PSG's new-found riches will require a delicate balancing act from Leonardo and the club's coach Antoine Kombouare. "PSG now face a difficult task - finding the right balance between developing young players and signing top, top players," said the Arsenal scout.

Former Lyon boss Alain Perrin, who now coaches Qatari club Al Khor, also warns it is imperative Kombouare makes a good start given that PSG are still busy recruiting. "The team is late coming together and the coach needs time and it can be difficult to come back if you start slowly."

But Comolli predicted that PSG's near 20-year title drought is unlikely to go on for much longer - though whether they can challenge for the Champions League is debatable. "They will need a bit of time, but they will challenge for the title this season and I think they will easily qualify for the Champions League. But it takes time to win a winning mentality to win the Champions League. You only have to look at Chelsea. You have to ask is the French league competitive enough to give PSG a sufficient challenge for them to be ready to compete in the Champions League."

And what about other top European teams - need they fear a newly-rich PSG? "I think it will change French football, but I don't think it will have an impact on European football," said Comolli. "Liverpool will always be Liverpool, Real Madrid will always be Real Madrid and Inter Milan will always be Inter Milan."

by John Sinnot
BBC Sport


http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/14393012.stm
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Varna
posté 26/08/2011 07:01
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Citation
Will Football Ever Have Paris?
Stars Are in Line Once Again for City That Helped Define the Sport to Regain Relevance

By GABRIELE MARCOTTI

If you were to take a historical walking tour of Parisian soccer, there would be plenty to see.


Reuters
Paris St. Germain's Leonardo welcomes Javier Pastore to the City of Light's preeminent soccer club.


FIFA, the sport's governing body, was founded at 229 Rue Saint Honoré, around the corner from the Place Vendôme and up the street from the Louvre.

The European Cup, the precursor to the unparalleled global cash cow that is the Champions League, was also dreamed up here, in the newsroom of a French magazine. A few miles away, in the suburb of Colombes, you'll find the stadium that hosted the 1938 World Cup final. That's where, if you suspend disbelief, Pelé scored his stellar overhead kick against the Germans before escaping to victory alongside Sylvester Stallone.

The problem with Parisian soccer is that this all happened 50 years ago—or, in the case of a 1981 film, never at all.

As a city, Paris played a disproportionate part in making the game what it is today. But since the mid-1960s, it has generally punched way below its weight. In fact, after the near-bankruptcy of Racing Club de Paris ended its professional team in 1966, the City of Light had no top-flight soccer for eight years.

That is, until Paris St. Germain was promoted to Ligue 1 in 1974.

PSG, born out of the merger of several amateur sides, was an attempt to bring big-time soccer to the French capital. Yet despite the efforts of some heavy hitters—from Daniel Hechter, the fashion guru who gave us prêt-à-porter, to French TV giant Canal+ and the Los Angeles private-equity firm Colony Capital, all of which owned the club at some point—PSG became synonymous with underachievement.

As European capitals go, its two league titles in the past 40 years are somewhat embarrassing, especially in light of the heavy spending and the wealth and size of its catchment area and fan base.

But on June 16, Qatar Sports Investment bought a controlling share from Colony and immediately set out to change all that.


Reuters
Kevin Gameiro, a recent acquisition for Paris St. Germain, celebrates after scoring in a Ligue 1 match last week.



Thanks to QSI and the gulf state's crown prince, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, PSG has spent some $120 million this summer, far exceeding the budget of any other European club. After Leonardo was brought in from Inter Milan as the team's general manager, he proceeded to secure Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore from Palermo for $61 million, a record for French soccer. He also signed Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, midfielders Jeremy Menez (Roma), Momo Sissoko (Juventus) and Blaise Matuidi (St. Etienne) and forward Kevin Gameiro (Lorient) to a club that finished fourth last year and already had a solid base of talent. No French team has ever gone on such a summer spending spree.

New-look PSG had a bumpy start, losing at home to Lorient in the opener before it tied at Rennes. Predictably, there have been calls for third-year manager Antoine Kombouare to be fired and perhaps replaced by a big-name boss. With all the new faces, Leonardo said, the team simply needs time to gel. That's still some ways away, judging by Sunday's 2-1 win over Valenciennes—a match in which PSG didn't play well but at least provided a win.

The Qatari investment in PSG seems to make sense. Le Championnat may not be Europe's glitziest league—attendance has fallen for five seasons, and it lags behind England, Spain, Germany and Italy in UEFA's rankings—but few cities can match Paris for glamour or potential. Twelve million people live in the Paris metropolitan area, while the closest Ligue 1 team is some 200 kilometers away.

What's more, with France hosting the 2016 European championships, new stadiums are being built up and down the country. There's bound to be an injection of enthusiasm and interest. France has been a net exporter of soccer talent in recent years. But with financial difficulties elsewhere, particularly Italy and Spain, that could change soon.

The flip side, as is the case with other gulf-owned clubs, is that it's no longer possible for teams to simply spend their way to success. UEFA's financial fair-play regulations limit the amount of losses for clubs that want to participate in the Champions League.

France also has its own rules. In many ways, they are stricter than UEFA's. PSG can spend like the Yankees, but financial chickens come home to roost, and the Qataris won't be allowed to plow money into the club to pave over losses.

That's what makes this season so important. Leonardo and Kombouare basically have one shot here. They either make it work with the pricey newcomers, or PSG will likely have to scale back in the coming seasons. Qualifying for the Champions League, which requires a top-three finish, is the absolute minimum result. Fans, media and the bean-counters will undoubtedly expect more.

The good news: For now, at least on paper, Parisians have the kind of team their city deserves.

Gabriele Marcotti is the world soccer columnist for The Times of London and a regular broadcaster for the BBC.



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405...eTabs%3Darticle


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11G
posté 21/11/2011 11:52
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Citation
Sarkozy orchestrates Qatar's French revolution


Paris Saint-Germain's Javier Pastore, a muscle-flexing French record €42 million signing from Palermo, celebrates with team-mates after scoring in his side's Ligue 1 win against Brest at the Parc des Princes in Paris.


FRENCH FOOTBALL: MATT SPIRO on how the French president reportedly played an instrumental part in turning round Paris Saint-Germain’s fortunes, as well as helping to save the French game from possible financial ruin

TIMES ARE tough for Nicolas Sarkozy. As unemployment in France continues to rise and the euro-zone crisis looms large, the French president’s popularity ratings have sunk to worryingly low levels. Yet the under-fire leader can at least console himself with one pleasing statistic: his favourite soccer team, Paris Saint-Germain, are top of the league.

The observation is not quite as frivolous as it sounds. For a start, Sarkozy and his sons Jean and Pierre are genuine PSG fans, frequently spotted at the Parc des Princes. Furthermore, in the past 12 months, Sarkozy has reportedly played an instrumental part in turning round the capital club’s fortunes, as well as helping save the French game from possible financial ruin.

There were grave fears for the future of Ligue 1 earlier this year. The lucrative television rights deal that had been keeping teams financially viable was up for renewal in 2012, and experts were predicting a gigantic fall in revenue that would threaten the existence of many clubs.

In 2008, the French League (LFP) succeeded in playing Canal Plus off against Orange to secure the impressive sum of €668m per season to share among top-flight clubs. While that figure is dwarfed by the Premier League’s €1,176 million a year, the package puts France above Spain (€542m) and Germany (€412m), and only just behind Italy (€863m), when it comes to TV money. Not bad at all for a league that is considered only the fifth best in Europe.

French soccer, however, has come to rely far too heavily on this source of income. The clubs earn precious little through commercial activities, and low ticket prices and attendances mean gate receipts are also modest.

So when Orange announced they were pulling out of the bidding for the 2012-2016 tender, leaving Canal Plus with a monopoly, panic set in. “There was real concern,” explains Etienne Moatti, L’Equipe’s sports finance expert. “In France, TV rights account for 57 per cent of a club’s revenue. Given that Ligue 1 teams ran an overall deficit of €153m last year, losing this TV money would have had dramatic consequences.”

Certain club chairmen even began wondering if the 2012/13 campaign would go ahead. “We can’t dismiss the possibility of a crash,” said then PSG president Robin Leproux in March.

“If the TV revenue is cut in half, some clubs will go under. That would be disastrous for French soccer, but also for Canal Plus who could find themselves without any games to broadcast.”

LFP president Frédéric Thiriez searched hard for a solution. Two TV networks, TPS and Orange, had already tried to compete with Canal Plus and failed. Nobody else wanted to get stung. Thiriez therefore decided he had to create the competition himself: the LFP set up their own TV channel, CFoot, which would provide a second platform for Ligue 1 matches. Many were dubious as to whether this unprecedented step made any sense.

Ligue 1 was ultimately saved from its doomsday scenario, but not by Thiriez and not by Canal Plus. While the world of soccer fretted, crucial talks were taking place at the very highest level.

The French magazine So Foot claims that on November 23rd last year, Sarkozy invited the Crown Prince of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, and Uefa president Michel Platini to the Elysée Palace for lunch. It explains Sébastien Bazin, the European representative of PSG’s American owners Colony Capital was also present. The aim of the talks, it seems, was to convince Qatar to invest in French soccer, and more specifically to purchase PSG.

The oil-rich Middle Eastern state had already shown an interest in 2006 when PSG’s former owners, Canal Plus, decided to wash their hands of an underachieving club that haemorrhaged money and was renowned for its hooligan element.

The takeover fell through because Canal Plus and the City of Paris, who own the Parc des Princes, were uncomfortable receiving funds from a nation they felt had questionable human rights laws.

However, with Colony Capital continuing to lose around €20m a year on PSG, the need to sell became more urgent. Bazin tried to rekindle Qatari interest in June 2010, but it was only after Sarkozy’s intervention five months later that a deal became possible. France’s president allegedly pulled out all the stops, making the most of his and France’s privileged relationship with Qatar.

“He was very interested in the dossier,” Elysée spokesman Franck Louvrier commented. “He was keen because these people wanted to invest in France, but also because he’s a (PSG) supporter.”

France has developed close ties with the Arab state that boasts the highest GDP per capita in the world. According to Libération, some of France’s biggest companies – Suez, Vinci, Airbus and Areva – are part-owned by sovereign funds from Qatar.

The government also encourages Qataris to invest in the French property market by exempting them from paying capital gains tax. In March, there was further evidence of the rapprochement when Qatar sided with France by voting for the Libyan air strikes resolution.

Sarkozy appears to have established an excellent relationship with the influential Sheikh Tamim. Indeed, the fourth son of the Emir of Qatar, who is heir to the throne, received the prestigious Legion of Honour award from France’s supremo shortly before the infamous November meeting.

Sheikh Tamim must have been intrigued by Platini’s presence that day. So Foot suggest the former France captain was dead set against Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid before being urged to change his mind at the meeting with Sarkozy. “He told me the Qataris were good people,” Platini is quoted as saying. Ten days later, the head of Uefa voted for Qatar.

It is nevertheless difficult to imagine Platini playing an active part in Qatar’s purchase of PSG given his well-known desire to establish “Financial Fair Play” in Europe. Yet by voting for the Arab state, some are suggesting he may have done just that.

The takeover was completed in June when Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) – a branch of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund headed by Sheikh Tamim – secured a 70 per cent holding of PSG. As Moatti puts it, Qatar simply “did France a small favour”. The L’Equipe journalist adds: “They were looking to buy a club in Europe. They wanted Manchester United but it wasn’t possible, so they went for the far cheaper option: PSG.”

Sheikh Tamim installed Nasser Al-Khelaifi as PSG president. Al-Khelaifi is also the director of the Doha-based Al Jazeera Sport television network, and it quickly became clear buying PSG was only the tip of the iceberg as far as the Qataris were concerned. In the summer, Al Jazeera Sport bought the international TV rights for Ligue 1 for six years at a cost of €192m. Spotting an opportunity, the LFP persuaded Al Jazeera to enter the race for domestic rights as well.

Al Jazeera’s late arrival has been a godsend for French soccer. The LFP sold the first instalment of the domestic rights for €510 million, with Canal Plus and Al Jazeera Sport purchasing two games each. Once the remaining matches are sold, along with mobile phone rights, the final figure will come close to matching today’s deal. At a time when clubs everywhere are tightening their belts, Ligue 1 is suddenly in a strong financial position.

PSG are, of course, leading the way. QSI have already secured the capture of Leonardo as sporting director and invested €85m in new players. They flexed their muscles by signing one of Serie A’s most mercurial talents, Argentinian Javier Pastore, for a French record €42m from Palermo – and David Beckham is next on the list.

The former England captain may be 36 but Al-Khelaifi knows his arrival would drum up considerable global interest. “Beckham transcends Ligue 1,” he says. “He’s an ambassador, a brand, an example to others.”

The bar has been set high by Al-Khelaifi, who wants PSG to win the title this term and compete for the Champions League within three years. But he also needs the league to remain competitive for Al Jazeera to have an attractive product.

All 20 clubs will benefit from the TV revenues from 2012. In the meantime, PSG will prioritise internal transfers to keep the money in Ligue 1. France internationals Kevin Gameiro and Blaise Matuidi have already been bought from Lorient and Saint-Etienne respectively, while rumours of a €50m raid for Lille’s Eden Hazard continue to grow.

Qatar’s French revolution is in full flow, yet this is only the start. Where they will stop is unclear, but nobody should underestimate Al Jazeera’s potential. Bankrolled by the Qatari royal family, they already boast five international networks: AJ Arabic, AJ English, AJ Sport, AJ Documentary and AJ Balkans. In 2012, they will launch AJ Sport France.

In terms of audiences, Al Jazeera is the world’s fastest growing broadcaster, reaching out to tens of millions. For last year’s World Cup final, AJ Sport attracted 162 million viewers. Reports in France suggest Al Jazeera are preparing to outbid Canal Plus for the Champions League rights, while UK broadcaster BSkyB may well have to compete with them for the Premier League rights next year.

Whether David Cameron is quite as welcoming as Sarkozy was remains to be seen, but few in France are complaining about this particular presidential intervention.

The Main Protagonists . . .

Nicolas Sarkozy : French president since 2007, the 56-year-old is a staunch PSG supporter and has reportedly established strong links with the Qatari royal family.

Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani (Sheikh Tamim ): The fourth son of the Emir of Qatar and heir apparent to the throne, this former Harrow school pupil is chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, the state’s sovereign wealth fund that bought PSG in June.

Sébastien Bazin : The European representative of American investment firm Colony Capital, which part-owned PSG from 2006 to 2011. Bazin counts Nicolas Sarkozy and Arsène Wenger among his close friends.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi : Appointed PSG president after the Qatari takeover, this close friend of Sheikh Tamim is also the director of Al Jazeera Sport.

Michel Platini : The Uefa president and former France captain allegedly attended a crucial meeting at the Elysée Palace shortly before voting for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.


Irish Times

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/...4307822782.html
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posté 21/12/2011 13:50
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Citation
Capital gains: well-connected PSG's revival is good for French football


Stuart Coleman, Editor of The Football Diaries, on the benefits of Paris St-Germain's rejuvenation

As Nicolas Sarkozy took his place in the Élysée Palace in June 2007, le président's team of choice had just finished their Ligue Un campaign in a dismal 15th. Paris Saint-Germain, one of French football's great clubs and the capital's only top-flight representatives, equalled their lowest-ever league finish after a season spent flirting with relegation.
That season had been a tumultuous one on and off the pitch, with former playing hero Paul Le Guen replacing the ineffective Guy Lacombe as manager in January 2007 and the shocking death of a PSG fan, shot by police after anti-Semitic harassment of an Israeli Hapoel Tel Aviv fan, in November 2006.

The fortunes of the capital city's biggest sporting asset had reached their nadir. As Le Guen's erstwhile employers Lyon swept all before them at the top of the table, PSG had to look on from the league's lower reaches, struggling without an all-important league title since 1994. By 2007, discord, violence and disappointment had established themselves as the club's defining features.

Fast forward four years and things are very different in the Western reaches of Paris, where the Parc des Princes rises like a brutalist monument to the beautiful game, standing watch over the ever-rumbling périphérique, the endless motorway marking the border between the city and the suburbs.

President Sarkozy, a genuine PSG fan, could afford a moment to forget his country’s economic problems, and let slip a satisfied smile. The premier has reportedly played a major part in not only the revitalisation of the French top flight, but also the dramatic changes at his beloved Paris Saint-Germain.

In November 2010, French football was looking with increasing fear towards a bleak future. The clubs had been handsomely remunerated by a generous TV package since 2008, courtesy of a bidding war between major broadcasters Orange and Canal Plus. With the rights for the 2012-2016 contract soon to be arranged, Orange announced they would not be taking part, apparently leaving Canal Plus to a monopoly and an enviably strong position from which to negotiate.

Having operated under a rights deal that paid better than the equivalent agreements in Spain and Germany, both of which are better-supported and more profitable leagues, the powers that be in French football were worried about the effects of vastly reduced rights money. Ligue Un's relatively low turnouts and a lack of commercialism could render contingencies incapable of bridging the impending financial gap: many thought that even bigger clubs like PSG could fold.

Enter Sarkozy. The French president played a major role in convincing Qatar's Crown Prince Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani to purchase a controlling share in PSG – and to persuade Qatari broadcaster al-Jazeera to step in and effectively save French football with a considerable TV rights deal.

Qatar Sports Investment, which was set up by the Crown Prince in 2005, was created in order to promote the oil-rich nation’s interests abroad, particularly in Europe. (As well as the takeover of PSG, QSI announced a record-breaking shirt sponsorship deal with global football darlings Barcelona.) The chairman of QSI and friend of the Crown Prince, Nasser al-Khelaifi, also happens to be the chairman of al-Jazeera sport, thus completing, for the Qataris, Sarkozy, French football and PSG, a mutually satisfying circle of influence.
It has been suggested that Sarkozy asked Michel Platini to support Qatar’s bid for the 2018 World Cup, in order to oil the wheels of the rights deal and the takeover of PSG. Neither side admits to any such arrangement and while the UEFA chief firmly denies the accusation, but it is a matter of record that his influential vote ultimately did go to the unlikely Middle Eastern bid winners.

Whether the financial dealings behind the scenes at PSG were Machiavellian scheming or simply shrewd business, the news of PSG’s takeover by wealthy Qataris sent shockwaves through French football and was the beginning of a new chapter in the club’s turbulent history. The new owners brought a renewed optimism and self-confidence to the club’s beleaguered supporters, who have spent much of the last decade wallowing in self-pity.

QSI’s financial muscle allowed the club to compete with the richest of Europe’s elite group; the signing of the highly-rated and widely-coveted Javier Pastore from Palermo for just under €40m in August was both a coup for the club and an overt announcement of PSG’s ambition. Indeed, Paris spent a wholly conspicuous €89m last summer; more than every other club in Europe, with the exception of England’s own Middle Eastern nouveau riche, Manchester City.
Opposing fans have felt a curious mixture of envy and disdain, the culture of buying success being considered vulgar and less valid than ‘earned’ victory – the same arguments that Chelsea and Manchester City had to contend with upon their own mega-rich takeovers. Despite the ostensibly obvious similarities, many PSG fans felt that the major investments taking place under QSI’s ownership were merely helping Paris back towards where they belonged – the top.

The merits of this line of thinking are up for debate, and it's worth remembering that last season PSG managed a creditable fourth place prior to QSI’s takeover. But no matter the route via which competitiveness has been reached, the club the French love to hate are, beyond any doubt, back.The dominance of Lyon in the opening decade of the century, winning seven titles in a row from 2001/02 to 2007/08, was as interminably tedious as it was hugely impressive. A league dominated by one force is only genuinely positive for that club; the lack of competitiveness harms the image of the league abroad and bores neutrals and opposing fans alike.

Thankfully, the last three seasons have seen three different league winners, Lille, Marseille and Bordeaux having all claimed the Ligue Un crown. To add a little extra spice to the mixture, the poseurs from Paris are back and are more than ready to stake their own claim to French football’s greatest prize. PSG are the second best-supported club in France, after their arch-rivals, Marseille. The QSI takeover brings them back to the top table and provides Ligue Un with a continental contender with the stadium, profile and cash to attract quality players, such as Pastore, and a global fan base to the French top flight.

Brazilian Leonardo, who has taken up a Sporting Director role at PSG, has insisted that the playing squad will be improved by focusing on young French talent, which so often in the past has been drawn in by the far-reaching tentacles of the Premier League. The former Milan and Inter manager has also appeased those fans keen to explore the tantalising possibilities of the club’s newfound wealth, with the promise of the occasional ‘marquee’ signing like Pastore thrown in for good measure. Moneyed they may be, but the club is well aware of the negatives associated with a specious Galacticos policy. Maintaining a French core to the team and club will please fans and if the temptation to fill the team with stars is resisted, the French national team, which is still rebuilding its reputation after the World Cup debacle, should also see demonstrable benefit.

The claimed dedication to young French talent seems so far not to be just bluster, with the promising Blaise Matuidi, Jérémy Ménez and the outstanding Kevin Gameiro joining the likes of club captain Mamadou Sahko at the Parc des Princes in the summer. With a rejuvenated squad, Paris have made an impressive start to 2011/12; Les Parisiens will enter the new year second in the table, kept off the top spot solely by an inferior goal difference to surprise contenders, Montpellier. Having just missed out on a second round spot in the Europa League, PSG’s ambition for the season is now the single-minded pursuit of that elusive Championnat.

Not all will be pleased at the kind of massive instant investment PSG are currently undergoing, but to see the club where the likes of Ronaldinho, Raí and Weah have shone, one of Europe’s true glamour sides, revitalised, hungry and back amongst the leading pack at the top of Ligue Un is a satisfying sight for any fan of French football.

So vive Paris, vive la France et vive la révolution!




http://fourfourtwo.com/blogs/thefrenchconn...h-football.aspx
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laleto
posté 30/12/2011 20:27
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A True Change of Era at PSG

Citation
A true change of era
December 30, 2011
By Alexander Netherton

"Antoine who?" French football magazine So Foot asked when it became apparent that the former Paris Saint-Germain manager Antoine Kombouare would be replaced by the former Chelsea and AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti. While there was some mock indignation - along the lines of the press reaction in England when Claudio Ranieri was discarded for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea - on balance there has been an acceptance of the decision.

The realisation is that Paris Saint-Germain really are right to bring in a new manager to meet ever increasing ambition. Stagnation is not enough to succeed in European football. This is because, though PSG are the autumn champions, the key question is, as the same magazine puts it, of whether they are to "stay good or become better". Given Kombouare's weaknesses, and Ancelotti's strengths, it seems that sporting director Leonardo has decided that merely being good, instead of excellent, is Kombouare's limit. The French press' reaction is one of reluctant accord rather than wailing at the former manager's removal.

Antoine Kombouare leaves with "neither a fabulous nor terrible record" (So Foot again). While he may have won 12 of his 19 games this year - twice the win ratio of his two predecessors, who won 27 matches in 76 games - Kombouare convinced nobody of his ability to lead PSG in the Champions League or manage Champions League players. It is possible to compare Chelsea's self-destruction away at Monaco in 2004 with PSG's failure to advance from the group stages of the Europa League. Both were not total disasters, but both were an indication of the coaches' limits. Chelsea, ceding advantage to the home side when they were on top, lacked the necessary ruthlessness. For all the opprobrium at the time, Ranieri's subsequent record has backed up Abramovich's judgment that he was not the manager to give limitless resources. There is no need for PSG and Leonardo to take the same risk.

Carlo Ancelotti, on the other hand, has a track record not of doing just enough but of winning the ultimate prize in European football. He has won the Champions League twice, and would have made it a five-year hat-trick were he not shocked by a freakish Liverpool comeback in Istanbul. Ancelotti also picked up two Scudetti, and won the league with Chelsea in his first Premier League campaign in 2010. Given the various financial constraints put on him as Silvio Berlusconi became less willing to spend at AC Milan, and given the immediate success required to keep a job at Chelsea under Roman Abramovich, Ancelotti's approach will appeal to the hugely ambitious owners at PSG. As he is quoted in Liberation, "I would like to find tactical solutions as brilliant as Arrigo Sacchi's, but there's less and less margin of error. I rely on the genius of the players." While Kombouare struggled to make a team play to its strengths, Ancelotti made the most of his Milan and Chelsea veterans. Remember, too, that Ancelotti can work under extreme pressure. Though QSI expects the utmost success, the Italian manager would have to field regular phone calls from Silvio Berlusconi - then not just his boss, but his Prime Minister.

It's this philosophy that could be the key to success, and the biggest initial problem, for PSG's new man in charge. To rely on the genius of Javier Pastore would have looked reasonable at the start of the season, with some deeply erotic volleyed goals and his Danone-smooth passes, but since then he's faded in his first French season. This is a minor obstacle, though. Pastore's talent is undoubted and with youth on his side you can expect he will come good once he settles in. However, the larger problem is that elsewhere in the side genius is not merely faltering but barely exists. The defence is shonky, often saved by its goalkeeper Sirigu, who has proved little more than his competence. In midfield, there is no player who can destroy, intercept or pass impressively. Their other maverick, Jeremy Menez, has the self belief of Nicklas Bendtner and, sadly for him and Paris Saint-Germain, about the same level of ability. blessure.gif

It's not just his track record as a coach - rewarded by a 'Ligue 1 record' monthly wage of €500,000 (L'Equipe) - that has secured Ancelotti the job. His relationship with Leonardo, a former player of his at AC Milan, secures a strong relationship at the top, pulling in the same direction. Le Monde points out: "Paris Saint-Germain have a chequebook without limit. It's a sign that PSG and French football is now in another dimension."

The new money had for Antoine Kombouare afforded them the chance to sign the best of the second-tier talent, but with Ancelotti new signings seem more reasonable. Alexandre Pato, unsettled in Milan, Florent Malouda, happy to leave Chelsea, and David Beckham, free to do what he likes, are all suggested as potential signings now. Along with another possibility, Kaka, they are all more likely to join PSG not just for money but because they have all experienced success under Carlo Ancelotti at one time or another. Pato's agent put it best when asked of the proposed move to PSG: "Ancelotti is a champion, Leonardo is a hyper competitive director ...and PSG are becoming a huge club."

PSG might now be in a new dimension, but the consensus in the press is that they won't be able to stay in it without Ancelotti. His appointment is, as Le Monde states today, "a true change of era" for PSG.




Alexander Netherton is editor of surrealfootball.com



http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story...-at-psg?cc=5901
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Varino
posté 15/03/2012 13:57
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Très long à lire: excellent article sur l'histoire récente du PSG dans les tribunes (quelques raccourcis et exagérations évidemment ici), dans sa nouvelle politique pour faire de l'argent.

A very long but excellent analysis of the recent changes at the Parc des Princes, the sociological aspect, and the new policies of PSG.

http://theclassical.org/articles/paris-is-earning


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Nova
posté 15/03/2012 14:22
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La violence de l'article
This article's nuts
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Dragosteadintei1...
posté 15/03/2012 15:01
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Putain, le mec a fait une vraie enquête ça fait plaisir.


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foyan
posté 15/03/2012 15:02
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26 pages à imprimer implosion du tibia.gif
Ca va être intéressant tout ca.
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Iloved
posté 15/03/2012 16:15
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I've read all of this article. Pretty good shit for a garbage of American writer smoke2.gif
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Varino
posté 15/03/2012 16:20
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Citation (Nova @ 15/03/2012 14:22) *
La violence de l'article
This article's nuts

Citation (Pigeon14 @ 15/03/2012 15:01) *
Putain, le mec a fait une vraie enquête ça fait plaisir.


Je sais pas ce qui lui a pris de faire un tel travail de recherche sur notre club, c'est fou en plus il cite toujours ses sources. A croire que le PSG doit être un cas passionnant même à l'échelle du sport mondial.


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stoner_man
posté 15/03/2012 16:23
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Comme avec CNN, le passé européen de très haut niveau du club est passé sous silence.


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Dragosteadintei1...
posté 15/03/2012 16:24
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Citation (Varino @ 15/03/2012 15:20) *
Je sais pas ce qui lui a pris de faire un tel travail de recherche sur notre club, c'est fou en plus il cite toujours ses sources. A croire que le PSG doit être un cas passionnant même à l'échelle du sport mondial.

Le mec est fort, il a été voir les bonnes personnes, il arrive à rester bien objectif. Gros gros boulot, si seulement on avait des journalistes en France.


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Nova
posté 15/03/2012 17:42
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Citation (Pigeon14 @ 15/03/2012 17:24) *
Le mec est fort, il a été voir les bonnes personnes, il arrive à rester bien objectif. Gros gros boulot, si seulement on avait des journalistes en France.


Personne lirait les articles, a part les passionnés. Ce genre de format d'analyse de fond n'est pas adapté au grand public, le mec a pondu une thèse sur le PSG tongue.gif
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Averell
posté 15/03/2012 18:09
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that article fucked me up once again.... sad.gif


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Orange_Hitman
posté 15/03/2012 20:13
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Mmmm i don't share your enthusiasm.

First of all the author is clearly French, or has lived in Paris for there are many French expressions inside the article that give it away.

Citation
Moacir P. de Sá Pereira (@muziejus) lives in Paris, France.


The article is too long to have any impact other than for the most implicated of fans but the data it provides only scratches the surface of the matter.

I didn't even finish it because one is doomed to make mistakes in an article this long, and some inaccuracies coupled with quick shortcuts ended up having the best of me.

Citation
While teams from Marseille, Lyon, and even highway rest stop Saint-Étienne have found glory on the international stage, Paris has always been a bit of a joke.


rolleyes.gif

I believe i've learned much more about the matter reading the plan leproux thread over here than i could ever have in that article. julm3.png

For those that don't want to read an essay the TL;DR of the article is : Police are bad, Ultras got kicked out, Boulogne are racist, Auteuil are not, PSG helped to get more money for less contestation ==> Foot Business is the devil.

I'm not saying any of that is untrue, quite the contrary, but its just that everyone willing to read such a long article probably already knows most of it. sleep.gif
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Varino
posté 15/03/2012 22:12
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There are not tons of articles out there, let alone in english, showing how the Plan Leproux was motivated more by money and a desire to change the Parc crowd into consumers, and not security as the mainstream media tried to tell us back then. I just thought it was worth mentioning here.
As for the impact, I don't think anyone expects anything from that kind of blog, like you said guys like us already know the story, but for a foreign PSG fan who wants to hear about what we used to be and what the club has become, it could be a pretty good read.


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