Should the proceeds from a Coupe de France match always be donated to the lower division club?

Custom, obligation, or “gentlemen’s agreement”? Every year, the recipe for Coupe de France matches between clubs playing in different divisions gets people talking, for good or bad reasons.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial


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Brecht Dejaegere lifts the Coupe de France trophy on April 29, 2023 after Toulouse's victory against FC Nantes at the Stade de France.  (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

The Coupe de France and its share of great stories are back, with the entry into the running, from Friday January 5, of Ligue 1 clubs. 64 clubs, from Regional 1 to Ligue 1, will compete during the 32nd final. Among these beautiful stories, there is always that of David against Goliath, that of these Little Thumbs who will meet the ogres of the championship – Paris Saint-Germain (against Revel), Olympique de Marseille (against Thionville) for example – and why not beat them. But there is another, big money this time, which has sometimes created controversy: the payment of part or all of the match proceeds to the club which plays in an amateur division. Is this seemingly noble practice obligatory?

The regulations of the French Football Federation (FFF) are very clear in this sense: the two teams must share the revenue from the match, from the ticket office, once the organizational costs and VAT have been deducted. No club is obliged to return its game to its opponent. This custom is actually more of a “gentlemen’s agreement” and the image that a president would like to give to his club. Since 2011, matches have been systematically played on the club’s home ground, which is hierarchically two divisions below. The clubs do not necessarily have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate large teams and must advance large sums to organize the meeting. Hence the importance of the recipe, and possibly its payment. For example, this Saturday January 6, US Revel hosts PSG at the Pierre-Fabre stadium in Castres – around 12,000 seats -, its stadium not being approved.

Several criteria are put forward in the payment of this recipe: reimbursement of travel expenses, quality of the welcome received… Last January, PSG left its share to the US Pays de Cassel, and OM to the ‘Hyères FC, without the amounts being communicated. The sums of money are sometimes significant for these amateur clubs which use them to finance new equipment or vehicles for travel.

Paradoxically, even if it is not an obligation, not paying part or all of the amount can cost at least bad publicity, sometimes a bad buzzat the club then accused of stinginess.

We ask the miser

In January 2020, Olympique de Marseille qualified with difficulty against Trélissac (1-1, 4-2 after penalties), a National 2 club. Then led by Jacques-Henri Eyraud, the Marseille club left with its half of revenue, or around 140,000 euros. A sum which represented 10% of the budget of his opponent of the day. The cost of travel was highlighted in this choice: “For this match, Trélissac benefited from a stadium with 13,000 seats and implemented a pricing policy which – if it was entirely justified – showed prices between 20 and 35 euros per seat. Thanks to hosting OM, the stadium was full and mainly welcomed Marseille supporters, the vast majority. It seemed right to us that in these particular conditions, the two clubs would share the revenue, especially since this trip cost OM 65,000 euros.“, the Marseille club said in a press release at the time.

There is another club which is well known for never paying back its part of its revenue, it is Losc. The people of Lille justify their choice by paying this sum to the amateur clubs of Hauts-de-France and assume to favor the development of local football: “Losc has long indicated that it would use Coupe de France ticketing revenues primarily for the development of its local action, its action towards the clubs in its territory as well as its social actions.“, thus justified the club to France Bleu Hauts-de-France.

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