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“It’s too late”: champion in 2015, the women’s hand club of Fleury Loiret goes out of business

It is a monument of French women’s handball which sinks, in indifference. Fleury Loiret Handball will file for bankruptcy, probably on November 25. Except miracle. With the club from the suburbs of Orléans (Loiret), we are talking about a champion of France in 2015 with participation in the Champions League in stride, vice-champion in 2013 and 2016, winner of the Coupe de France in 2014. Like Metz and Brest today, Fleury dominated the hand tricolor in the mid-2010s. Estelle Nze Minko, the current captain of the France team played there, like Amélie Goudjo or Manon Houette who made his debut there. This club from 2002 to 2021 spent nearly 20 years in the Women’s League (1st division) before falling to D2 last summer. A first sign of concern, already.

This weekend, Fleury should play in Besançon as part of the 7th day of D 2, the first after the break due to the European championship. The club will not move and announced it on November 25. The postponement of the match he had requested was refused. This package acknowledges his disappearance. Its liquidation should be pronounced on November 30 according to information from France-Bleue of November 25.

To save itself, the club has an obligation to find 200,000 euros this Friday. If he does not have them – and he does -, his manager will appear before it closes at the Orleans Commercial Court to file for bankruptcy. “The situation is dramatic. We are indeed two days away from filing for bankruptcy ”warned President Sabine Guillien Heinrich this week. Unless a patron comes forward at the last minute, the club will go out of business, putting players, staff and administrative staff, around twenty people, out of work in the middle of the season. For players in particular, it is almost impossible to find a club before next season. Solicited by us, none wished to react to the dramatic situation. Neither does the club. He judges that it is now “too late” to demonstrate despite several alerts from him in the previous weeks to mobilize public opinion. Staff will receive the economic dismissal letter early next week.

The metropolis refused aid of 100,000 euros, the fatal blow

Fleury’s problem is financial, against a backdrop of a dispute between the club, the city and the metropolis of Orléans. On November 17, the latter refused to grant exceptional aid of 100,000 euros. “Paying the subsidy would amount to paying 100,000 euros in lost funds”, estimated the mayor (LR) of Orléans and president of the metropolis Serge Grouard. The club was counting on this check to pay off part of its deficit, which the agglomeration estimates at 763,000 euros. A figure disputed by the “Panthers”, the nickname of the players: “No, the deficit of the SASP is not established at 763,000 euros, but at 293,000 euros, swears the club. We have provided 100% of the guarantees requested by the metropolis so that this subsidy is paid, as promised. »

The French federation and the Women’s League through the voices of their president Philippe Bana and Nodjialem Myaro support the club’s figures in a press release: “The federal players confirm that the payment of this balancing subsidy to which the Metropolis had committed would ensure well the continuation of FLH activity. All the figures known to the National Commission for Management Control of the Federation on the state of the club are reliable. Their presentation during the metropolitan council is erroneous. »

At the local level, the situation of the Panthers turns into a big political quarrel with a clear rivalry between the city (PS) and the metropolis (LR): “The fate reserved for the club is of the order of mistreatment. The refusal of the exceptional subsidy was organized in an organized way” thus carried away the mayor (PS) of the city Carole Canette. Still, despite the support of French handball, nothing comes to save Fleury from defeat: “His disappearance implies the destruction of 16 jobs but also the end of the activity of the club’s training center with 8 players under agreement federal officials insist helplessly.

This is not the first time this year that an Elite women’s handball club has been in serious crisis. This points to the difficulty for many clubs to survive as soon as a community cuts off the financial tap. In the spring of 2022, Bourg-de-Péage, taken over on the bench in recent days by former international Grégory Anquetil, also came close to filing for bankruptcy. At the very last moment, an investor came to put 150,000 euros to save him. Fleury is not so lucky. The Panthers will leave if they can afford it in National 1 in 2023, at the amateur level.

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