After the popular success of the 2019 World Women’s Football Championship, women’s sport had started the year with the ambition of passing a milestone. It was certainly not all of a sudden the rush in stadiums and gymnasiums to witness the exploits of the champions, but the good results of the national teams or the clubs helping, most of the indicators were green.
“Women’s sport is no longer a gadget”
The coronavirus pandemic has clouded the picture. Broken momentum? In a hindered and economically depressed sports world, isn’t female sport likely to face the restrictions to come much harder than its male counterpart? ” No, because female sport is no longer a gadget for most of the partners involved, says Brigitte Henriques, Ovice-president of the French Football Federation, in charge of the women’s sector. The big companies that have invested so far, like Arkema, sponsor of our female D1, are quite satisfied. Women’s sport is inexpensive and can pay big dividends. So even if it will be difficult next year – but no more so for girls than for boys – I don’t think we will go back. “
Director of the Women’s Basketball League (LFB), former international Yannick Souvré wants to share this optimism: “We hope we just have to do with round backs, she says, but the fear is real in the clubs, especially because of the lack of visibility that reigns for next season. “
Passing the current season by profit and loss is one thing, planning for the next without date or modalities another, much more perilous. “Will we come back in baskets in September, or later, or in 2021 only? wonders François Gomez, general manager of Tarbes Gespe Bigorre. Will the public respond present? And the partners? We depend, in Tarbes, on SMEs which for the moment hope above all to save their businesses. We do not have the indecency to go and consult them today. We will see in June. But we anticipate a loss of 30% of our partnerships and we will therefore reduce our payroll as much. The players are making an effort and it is to their credit “.
Too much uncertainty to dare to approach economic partners
All clubs are building their budgets for next season before the end of June. It is not certain that they will have all the answers to their questions by then. Everyone is looking for solutions. “If I go to see my economic partners today, I will be thrown out, explains Gérard Le Saint, president of Brest Bretagne handball. So I’m working on the idea of building the next budget for calendar year 2021, modeled on the years of the companies that support us. ”.
Is it more difficult for a women’s club to convince them? The manager is well placed to respond, also hired as vice-president of the Stade Brestois who returned to Ligue 1 football this year: “I try to convince my partners about a product offering a good show. And women’s sport in this context is not disadvantaged, just less publicized. We had a budget of 6 million euros this season, and I still hope to reach 6.5 million next season. You have to be inventive, but I don’t want to be pessimistic ”.
The president of the Béziers Volley, Bernard Fages, has a much harder time showing such a move. Even with a taste of unfinished, it can certainly be satisfied with a season stopped on a 4e place in the championship and a semi-final in the European Cup. But it stumbles on a horizon of uncertainty. “The fear of going out of business is real, because we don’t know at all if we can play, even in the fall, he confides. This season, financially, we are going to get by, but to save us tomorrow, we must fill our rooms. There is no half solution. “
Focus on adaptability
Female or male sport in this context, it’s the same thing. ” There is no difference, judge Daniel Braun, president of ASPTT Mulhouse volley, defending champion. The crisis affects clubs according to their economic model or the sport concerned more than on the male-female question. For us, with our reasonable wages, partial unemployment made it possible to pay our players and our employees – 19 in total – and to partially compensate for the lack of revenue. For next year, we had a reserve of 10% of our budget thanks to which we will be able to secure the budget for the new season, which could start in the second half of October. Until then, we’re trying to stay calm. “
Everyone in the collective sport is reduced to crossing their fingers, with very little room for maneuver. “You have to be creative, adapt to the situation, concludes François Gomez to Tarbes. And that, in women’s sport, we are quite used to doing it. Moving forward in adversity, we know, so let’s say to counter the catastrophic speeches that we are not necessarily the least armed in the face of the crisis. “