Sochaux’s Samuel Laurent: “It would be heartbreaking for the fans.”

Following the news that Sochaux may be forced to move out of their stadium, Stade Auguste-Bonal, French radio station France Bleu invited Samuel Laurent, the general manager of the club, and Charles Demouge, president of the Pays de Montbéliard Agglomération, who own the stadium. With the rental agreement due to expire at the end of March, Sochaux are unlikely to be able to host Nancy next weekend.

“We have a ten-year agreement,” explained Demouge, “and we’re arriving at the end of it. We have today proposed an extension of six months. On March 22nd 2018, it was agreed by the elected members of the agglomeration that all tenants of any establishment pay their utility costs. It’s not my fault if today energy prices have increased! What we ask of FC Sochaux-Montbéliard is that they pay their utility costs, that’s all!”

Samuel Laurent, however, gave his side of the argument. “When my team went to see the PMA on 9th March to start negotiations, they said to them, ‘we will extend the contract by six months, but while we wait, you put the meters in your name.’ Really, what the PMA was saying was ‘we’ll take six months to negotiate but you sign first.’ And sorry but there I say no! It’s a negotiation that should take into consideration the interests of both parties. I understand that the PMA’s finances have suffered. But ours have suffered too with Covid, Brexit, the TV rights crisis… Football has hit rock bottom.”

“The case is not closed, the negotiations are still ongoing,” replied Demouge. “We are Sochaux’s twelfth man, it’s not about giving up on it.”

Despite this, Laurent explained why he had considered finding the club a new home. “We’re not threatening anyone. It would be a terrible logistical problem for us and it would be heartbreaking for the fans. We’re having our best season for seven years, it would be terrible. But simply, there are constraints, especially in respect to the league. If there’s no stadium agreement, it’s possible that the league might consider the stadium unapproved.”a

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