Basketball: the American dream of Pau-Orthez flopped

The Pau-Orthez team of Jérémy Leloup here, in defense on Kevarrius Hayes (Asvel) in Villeurbanne on April 20, 2021, is excluded from the Basket Elite ( AFP / JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK )

It is a monument of French basketball which is threatened with extinction: Pau-Orthez, passed under the American banner a year ago, saw his commitment to the elite and to ProB in 2022-2023 refused for financial reasons.

The decision of the National Directorate of Control and Management Council (DNCCG) of the National Basketball League was expected, it surprised no one but created a certain amazement among lovers of Elan and its employees, whose fate largely depends on whether or not the club remains in the professional fold.

Of course, the Pau club has eight days to “formulate a request for free appeal” to contest this decision, but the future of the nine-time French champion, winner of a Korac cup and four French Cups, who attends both first national divisions since 1970, has darkened considerably.

In their recent history, the Béarnais have already suffered demotions, in 2009 and 2012, but they were purely sporting and were followed by immediate increases. This is therefore his first administrative demotion, paradoxically the year they woke up sportingly with a victory in the Coupe de France in April and an Elite semi-final in June.

This Thursday, neither club president David Bonnemason-Carrère nor the American owner, the Counterpointe Sports Group (CSG) fund, spoke publicly. But the club’s entourage suggests that he will make good use of this possibility of appeal.

To justify its decision, the DNCCG invokes “the absence of guarantee as to the continuity of operation of the club and the absence of any conclusive element making it possible to remove this risk”. She also judges that there is a “serious hazard as to the realization of the 2022/2023 budget”.

Heard for the first time by the supervisory body on June 14, the Elan had presented itself with a deficit of around 3 million euros, for a budget set at 7.8 million at the start of the season. The DNCCG had then claimed a million euros in guarantee, the possibility being open to repay the remaining two million, via a bank loan.

– Electroshock? –

Its president and co-founder David Otto had innovated this season in terms of shareholding by offering the public tokens representing part of its capital, using blockchain technology.

He had sold his first crypto-tokens without difficulty, with the possibility of drawing up to a maximum of 10 million euros from this operation, according to CSG, while the real financial situation was deteriorating dangerously.

In recent days, David Otto had come specially to France to try to mobilize the majority shareholders, local and historical partners of Elan, in vain. Will the DNCCG’s decision serve as an electric shock?

In the meantime, it seems unlikely that public authorities will agree to come to the rescue as it stands. While the two parties had agreed to a takeover of shares in the amount of 800,000 euros at the time of the sale of the club, the Pau Béarn Pyrénées urban community, chaired by François Bayrou, has still not received the expected payment.

His short press release published Thursday reminded him firmly: “In any case, the sums due to the Community of Agglomeration and to the City must be paid”. Therefore, it does not exclude going towards more radical solutions, even if it means separating from CSG. “In the event of confirmation of the sanction, the question is whether there are other recovery solutions”

The next board of directors of the Pau club, scheduled for early next week, could bring some of them.

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Basketball: the American dream of Pau-Orthez flopped

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