By focusing on free access, the Paris Football Club is a hit – Libération

This Saturday, November 11, Paris FC players welcome Bastia to the Charléty stadium as part of the 14th day of Ligue 2. Faced with a larger crowd than usual, after the club’s decision to make access to the stands free until the end of the season.

A first that will fill up. Paris Football Club (PFC), 15th in Ligue 2, faces Sporting Club de Bastia (11th) this Saturday, November 11 at 7 p.m. at the Charléty stadium, in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. There should be nearly 8,000 supporters in the bays of the enclosure, double the usual number. Last week, the Parisian club announced that all matches played at home by its men’s (Ligue 2) and women’s (D1 Arkema) teams will be free until the end of the 2023-2024 season. Official objective: “Increase the level of attendance [des] matches at the Charléty stadium […]reconnect with the popular essence of football and offer a spectacle open to all.”

The decision appears to have had a dramatic effect. While the PFC men’s matches only brought together an average of 4,135 spectators last year, compared to around 900 for those of the women’s section, the gauge set by the PFC for free seats during the match against the Corsican club (the the rest being reserved in particular for the boxes and VIP areas) was quickly reached. 8,000 tickets found takers. A figure still below the capacity of the Charléty stadium (19,000 seats), but which could not be exceeded due to security constraints and the staff necessary to supervise the event.

“Make the operation white”

Pierre Ferracci, the president of the Ile-de-France club, is delighted with this first success, referring to a “very well received operation”. The challenge now for him is to balance the club’s accounts. With a budget of 25 million euros per year (22.5 for the men’s section, 2.5 for the women’s), the impact of this now free ticketing remains modest: 1 million euros for the 2023 season – 2024. “We want to cover this million to make the operation white and we even hope to exceed it with the new resources that we hope to free up,” confides the president, eyeing in particular new sponsorship revenues.

An opinion shared by Christophe Lepetit, head of economic studies at the Center for Sports Law and Economics. For him, the PFC achieved with this first in professional football “a well-received communication move”. He sees it as a “strategy aimed at generating interest around the club and attracting sponsorship partnerships”. And to develop: “It is a loss that can probably be assumed in the short term, with the ambition of compensating it through future signing of contracts with local, national, or even international companies.”

“Football is becoming difficult to access”

Above all, Ferracci wants to spark a debate on the cost of football in a context of galloping inflation. “People in France today measure two things: the price of coming to the stadium and the price of subscribing to TV channels that broadcast football. For example, I spoke with scholarship students from the Cité universitaire [située à côté du stade Charléty, ndlr] : they count everything, whether it’s going to the cinema, going to a restaurant or watching a football match.” He even hopes that his club will be “copied”, or at least that the others will “lower the prices, because today, from Ligue 1 to the National, football is becoming difficult to access”.

An image issue too, analyzes Christophe Lepetit: “Free membership allows us to show the appearance of a popular club. With this decision, the PFC wishes to give itself the means to achieve the objective of popular football for all social classes.” A boon also for companies which would much more readily associate their image with a dynamic structure, with full stands for Ligue 2 games.


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