Despite objections from fan organizations, the Red Star FC takeover by a US pension fund, 777 Partners, came to as of May 11. The takeover of the Saint-Ouen (93) club is seen as a “arm of honour in the Red Star’s 125-year history,” according to the latter.
The club quickly distinguished itself in a traditionally working-class city characterised by left-wing politics and social values. The Bauer stadium in which it evolved was a tribute to a resistant doctor: the communist Jew Jean-Claude Bauer, who was shot by the French police in 1942. The Rino Della Negra tribune, too, takes its name from a resistance movement against fascism during WWII. Della Negra was an Italian immigrant worker who evolved under the colors of the Red Star before WWII. The young guy went into hiding and joined a detachment of Free Shooters and partisans – Immigrant Labour – in 1942 after refusing to assist in the German war effort through compulsory labor service. He was also shot in 1944 for his courageous actions with this team.
Even today, Red Star supporters pay tribute to these inspirational personalities by frequently raising funds for charitable organizations or participating in the city’s associative life. The risk of football business outweighing the club’s historical values is posed by a takeover by a party with merely commercial motives.
Attracted by the proximity to the city and the reservoir of young players concealed in the Île-de-France, 777 Partners puts football at the service of the capital to its full potential. Football has been an incredibly important financial issue for more than 25 years: investors want to “value” a club, then sell it to earn a profit, or treat players as financial assets in a transfer market that has grown entirely irrational, regardless of their sports merit.
In this regard, superstars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are perhaps the most advanced examples of players who have evolved into brands, whose market value no longer corresponds to the value of their football game but rather to the potential for financial gain that the club will be able to reap as a result of their image. 777 Partners, a Miami-based investment fund, has been active in this area for several years and now owns all or part of various football clubs all across the world.
While supporters’ groups have always backed their clubs in difficult times, it is unclear that a society with exclusively financial interests will make the same commitment. However, it seems crucial to recall that football is first and foremost a popular sport, with hundreds of thousands of young people taking to the fields every week for the pleasure of the game, and that, contrary to market logic, thousands of amateur clubs form the beating heart of the sport.
The formalization of the acquisition of Red Star by the American investment fund 777 Partners still does not pass in Rino Della Negra. Last Sunday, May 15, fans gathered in Saint-Ouen for the Festi’Bauer, an end-of-season fair organized by the Red Star Bauer Collective. All of them still think they can send the buyers back to Miami and find a project that fits more with their DNA. To continue to shine the values of Red Star. They fear that this sale to the Americans would destroy the communist values of the club.
Even Gerard Piqué, the FC Barcelona defender said in an interview that he had made an offer to buy the club, accompanied by French entrepreneurs. Well, the fans did not care and stopped the championship match against Sète with smoke throws on the pitch. “It was a cry from the heart. We were sad and enraged. For us, the Red Star is a lifetime,” a fan said.
A glimmer of hope: The resistance now goes beyond fans’ culture and a simple desire of a few loyal ultras to preserve the label of “leftist club”. The case is thus taking a political turn. As of May 13, four representatives of the supporters were gathered at the National Assembly by Marie-George Buffet, the deputy of the Communist Party. There is a file of the Belgian federation (RBFA). This document on the Ostend club, concerning the validation of its 2023 license, shows the club’s links with Genoa, a club of 777 Partners like another Belgian team, Standard de Liège. This is therefore problematic for the RFBA, as people have interests in both clubs. This problem of fair play will recur next season between Nancy – whose owners are those of Ostend – and the Red Star FC – which shares its owners with the Standard. The Collective published an open letter on this subject in order to alert the FFF and the DNCG.
Alexandre Leloup informs from Paris for Futuristika. ✪