By Ulysse Pasquier, writing from Montreal
It’s been a week and still even Rémi Gaillard can’t quite believe it. Who would have thought at the start of the season that Montpellier, the 13th budget in Ligue 1, would end up lifting the trophy for the first time in its history. The southern city is a cultural and university center in France and has celebrated sporting triumphs in handball and rugby, but never football. Promoted to Ligue 1 just two seasons ago, René Girard’s side defied the odds by finishing above big-spending Paris Saint Germain. With Manchester City leading an analogous enterprise as PSG and winning the Premier League, no one outside the French capital could complain about the success of a club focused on the development of young players and a sustainable budget.
Turn the clock back to 2007; Montpellier was in an abysmal state and fighting against relegation to the National league – the third division in France. That’s how far they have come, out of nowhere, very much in the image of their emblematic striker Olivier Giroud who was playing for Tours in Ligue 2 just a year ago and is now looking to book his place for the Euro with France. Montpellier’s victory was nothing short of miraculous and set the stage for a thrilling season. If you enjoy such underdog stories however, you may have to wait a while before it happens again in France.
"I think our triumph is a real shot in the arm for French football. It just goes to show that everyone can beat everyone and that money isn’t the be-all and end-all," René Girard was quick to point out after the win against Auxerre. Not so fast René. Already PSG’s wealthy Qatari owners have invested 200 million euros in the club’s budget for next season and will want to provide even more finances for transfers. It doesn’t seem that much for other European clubs, but for French football, it is a huge sum of money.
While the Ligue 1 may not always display the highest quality of football, it does provide its fair share of entertainment. Unlike other leagues in Europe, there is no “Top 2” or “Top 4” and the title has been contested between many different teams until the last day of fixtures in recent years. As Girard argued, this season did show that money isn’t everything, but that was just the tip of the Parisian iceberg. There comes a point when financial discrepancies between clubs outweigh any other variables and that point will be easier to reach in France than in England.
Teams in the Premier League have been able to compete with Manchester City because of their status as some of the wealthiest clubs in the world. French clubs do not have that luxury and will have to come from much further to challenge what PSG is creating. It is therefore difficult to see past Carlo Ancelotti’s side for next season and several seasons after that. This kind of wealth will bring more exciting players to France but it would be a sad day when the Olivier Giroud’s and the Younes Belhanda’s are overshadowed by the results of unrestrained spending.
Can you see a team stopping PSG from winning the Ligue 1 next season? If not, do you think the league in France can still be competitive?
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- nafe19 answered: I hope Montepillar keeps up and be the champions again.
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- dellhs answered: Nope i can’t see a team stopping PSG next yeah,but maybe when FFP rules comes in effect,season after next,maybe it might be more even.
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- ivobolluijt answered: I hope for O.M.
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- thesubstitution answered: Certainly OM and OL can always be competitive. As in the Premier League; City won’t last forever (UEFA FFP), neither, surely, can PSG
- michaelrio answered: legend..
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