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Fédération des Socios de France: "Our purpose is to promote popular shareholding" (J. Chatonnier)

News Tank Football - Paris - Interview #328037 - Published on 11/06/24 at 16:15 -
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©  D.R.
Jérémy Chatonnier - ©  D.R.

"The purpose of the FSF is to promote popular shareholding, pool our contacts, ideas, human resources, feedback and the creation of a toolbox for future associations. The promotion of popular shareholding in France is virtually non-existent, and it's our responsibility to make people understand that another way is possible to help our clubs when they're in difficulty, but also and above all when they're doing well," said Jérémy Chatonnier, president of the Fédération des Socios de France, to News Tank Football on 10/06/2024.

"Generally speaking, local authorities take a very positive view of socios (club's members who have voting rights) movements. But it depends on the club's financial situation. Unfortunately, it's sometimes when a club is in a bad way that a popular shareholding project has the best chance of succeeding, because the local authorities become the decision-makers. Many local councillors are already helping us on a day-to-day basis to try and promote this model," explained the man who is also president of AS Saint-Étienne Activity: French professional football club Main partners: • Hummel (equipment supplier): 2022-2027• Kelyps Intérim (HR): sleeve sponsor from 2022-23 to April 2024, main shirt sponsor from April… 's Socios Verts association.

"The sale of AS Saint-Étienne (promoted to Ligue 1 French first division, 20 clubs. for 2024-25) is a good thing for the long-term future of the club. The former shareholders had reached the end of their financial and human capacities. We are working to present the Socios Verts project as quickly as possible to the new owner (Kilmer Sports Ventures)," added Jérémy Chatonnier, who spoke to News Tank Football.


"Popular shareholding is not a last resort, but an added value for all clubs" (Jérémy Chatonnier)

How did the Fédération des Socios de France come into being?

We, supporters' associations in favour of popular shareholding, got together in October 2023 after several previous meetings. We wanted to give concrete form to some of our joint initiatives by creating this federation, which became official in February 2024.

How is the federation organised?

I'm the president. François Michel, from the Sauvons Nîmes Olympique collective, is the secretary, and Théo Armbruster, from Sociochaux, is the treasurer.

7 founding associations & 2 new members since the creation of the federation »

The federation is made up of seven founding associations, four of which are shareholders in their own football clubs: Socios Étoile Club Bastiais (SC Bastia Activity: French professional football clubLegal structure: SA SCIC (Société anonyme/Société coopérative d'intérêt collectif) since 2019Major partner:• Oscaro Power (energy): main shirt sponsor… ), Sociochaux (FC Sochaux-Montbéliard Activity: French professional football club Equipment supplier:• Eldera (FRA) 2023-2028Main shirt sponsor:• EIMI (energy efficiency): 2023-2026Official partners:• Pays de Montbéliard Agglomération… ), the 'Kalon' of Guingamp (EA Guingamp Activity: French professional football club Founded:1912 Major partners: • Armor Lux (manufacturer and clothing distributor) • Breizh Cola (beverages): pocket sponsor • Celtigel (frozen… ) and the Fédération des Culs Rouges de Rouen (FC Rouen ).

Three other associations are still at the project stage: Socios Verts (AS Saint-Étienne), of which I am president, Socios Nancy (AS Nancy-Lorraine Activity: French professional football club Main Partners:• Hyundai (car manufacturer): main shirt sponsor• Kipsta (equipment supplier)For a full list of partners click here ) and the Sauvons Nîmes Olympique Activity: French professional football club Premium partners: • Puma (equipment supplier): since 2016-17 • Hectare (real estate developer): main shirt sponsor, 2018-2020 • Groupe Bastide… collective.

Finally, two associations have joined us since the creation of the federation: Socios Metz and our first member outside football with the Aginnum project for SU Agen (SUA) SU Agen (Pro D2).

What is the purpose of the FSF?

Mainly to promote popular shareholding, pool our contacts, but also our ideas and human resources, feedback and the creation of a toolbox for future associations.

The promotion of popular shareholding in France is almost non-existent, and it is our responsibility to make people understand that another way is possible to help our football and sports clubs when they are in difficulty, but also and above all when they are doing well.

A transmission channel between a club and its supporters, local authorities, former players and local economic players »

This federation, which for the moment is mainly made up of associations linked to football clubs, aims to open up to all sports.

What are the virtues of popular shareholding that you would like to highlight?

Enhancing the brand, helping with CSR Corporate social responsibility , strengthening a club's identity and passing on shared values. These are issues that are of great interest to clubs, given the problems they face today.

Do you advocate majority or minority popular shareholding?

All options are possible, even if the French model is based on a very large majority of minority shareholders. The idea is to have a transmission channel between a club and its supporters, local authorities, former players and local economic players. Having supporter representatives on the various boards of directors is a good way of achieving this.

What examples of popular shareholding would you highlight?

Sociochaux works very well, as does Socios Etoile Club Bastiais. These two groups are very involved in taking concrete decisions.

11,000 Sochaux fans contributed to the Sociochaux fund to save the club in the summer of 2023 - ©  D.R.

In Bastia, for example, they are working with Corsican Railways (CFC) to bring Bastia fans to the Stade de Furiani, and they are working with the club and local authorities to develop the stadium as part of the renovation work.

At Sochaux, one of the achievements was the provision of suspended tickets: people who didn't necessarily have the means to go to the stadium were able to get free tickets. It's a way of embodying social and popular football.

Abroad, Germany's culture is a model for us, with its famous 50+1 rule.

How do you convince and reassure funds, businessmen or large companies that own clubs that popular shareholding is the right thing to do?

We need to do a lot of educating, publicising current projects and clubs where this model already exists, and where it's working very well.

What about local authorities?

Generally speaking, they take a very positive view of the socios movement. But it depends on the club's financial situation. Unfortunately, it's sometimes when a club is in a bad way that a popular shareholding project has the best chance of succeeding, because the local authorities become the decision-makers. Many local councillors are already helping us on a daily basis to try and promote this model.

Are you afraid that popular shareholding will only be seen as a last resort?

That's precisely one of the federation's aims, to make people understand that popular shareholding is not a last resort, but an added value for all clubs.

Many clubs are sold at fairly low prices compared with the price of certain players »

Is financing capacity one of the limits of popular shareholding?

There are identified limits. The value of a football club has nothing to do with its sportsmen and women or its wage bill. In fact, many clubs are sold at fairly low prices compared with the price of certain players. Obviously, the financial 'limit' is not an issue when a club is in difficulty, as this capital is very interesting for saving the club quickly.

Alongside the FSF, you are president of the Socios Verts project. Can you tell us about it?

The project is over two years old. We want to acquire a stake in AS Saint-Étienne and be represented on the supervisory board and/or the board of directors. We're trying to make ourselves known to the various players, supporters, former players, local authorities and leaders, so that we're recognised as reliable partners.

As of 11/06/2024, how much have you pledged to invest?

It currently stands at nearly €597,500 and is rising steadily.

Pledges to the Socios Verts project on 10/06/2024 - ©  Socios Verts

Were you involved in the discussions/negotiations with Kilmer Sports?

We weren't involved in the negotiations between Kilmer Sports and the club, but we didn't remain inactive during that period, following the various stages they went through to buy the club as closely as possible. We also spoke to a number of other suitors.

What are your thoughts on the sale?

The sale of our club is a good thing for the future of AS Saint-Étienne. The previous shareholders had reached the end of their financial and human capabilities. They made mistakes and blunders, but decision-making in itself takes a lot out of you. So in 20 years...

They've taken us to the European Cup on a regular basis, offered us a trophy, and thanks to their rigorous management, we've even managed to emerge from two seasons in Ligue 2 without too much damage.

The future is inherently uncertain, but having a shareholder as strong and experienced as Larry Tanenbaum and managers of the calibre of Ivan Gazidis and his team is reassuring.

Would you like to contact the group to start the process of buying their shares?

We are indeed working to present the Socios Verts project as quickly as possible. They're going to have a lot of work to do, and I think it's going to be a step-by-step process.

Jérémy Chatonnier, president of the Fédération des Socios de France, 10/06/2024

©  FSF
Fédération des Socios de France

Founded: February 2024

Activity: promotion of popular shareholding within professional clubs

President: Jérémy Chatonnier

Founding members:

- Sociochaux (FC Sochaux-Montbéliard);

- les Kalon Guingampais (EA Guingamp);

- Socios Étoile Club Bastiais (SC Bastia);

- Socios Verts (AS Saint-Étienne);

- Fédération des Culs Rouge (FC Rouen);

- Collectif Sauvons le Nîmes Olympique;

- Socios Nancy (AS Nancy-Lorraine).

Contact: contact@sociosdefrance.fr 

French Federation of Socios - ©  FSF


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