“The Parc des Princes does not belong to Qatar, but to Parisians and, more broadly, to the French people,” the deputy mayor of Paris said.
A top Paris official has hit out at Qatar amid an ongoing spat between football giants Paris Saint-Germain and the French capital over a potential sale of the Parc de Princes stadium.
Deputy of the City Council David Belliard said he stands against selling off the landmark site, pointing towards the Gulf state in an interview with RMC Sport on Sunday.
“We are in a liars poker game. We will see what happens in the negotiations,” he said, adding: “I am not in favour of selling off major Parisian heritage assets to the private sector, and in particular to Qatar.”
“We need to have control over a number of prestigious assets.”
“The Parc des Princes does not belong to Qatar, it belongs to Parisians, and more broadly, to the French. I want it to remain part of this common heritage,” Belliard, who is also in charge of the City’s transportation, explained.
The comments came after Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo stated in an interview last week that the Parc des Princes is not for sale.
Hidalgo told Le Parisien in an interview published on Saturday, when asked for her stance on a possible sale of the stadium: “… the Parc des Princes is not for sale. And it will not be sold. This is a firm and definitive position.”
“It is an exceptional heritage for Parisians. But of course we need to accompany PSG with their desire and need to renovate, increase the capacity and modernise the Parc des Princes…”
Speaking to Doha News, sports expert Professor Simon Chadwick spotlighted the ramifications underpinning the importance of the stadium.
“Clearly, the stadium pre-dates Qatari ownership of PSG hence there is an established socio-cultural and political conception of the role this infrastructure should perform,” the professor of Sport and Geopolitical Economy at SKEMA Business School said.
PSG and Paris play ball
Responding to the mayor’s comments in a statement last week, PSG said it was “disappointed by the City Council’s decision” and that they may be “forced to leave the Parc des Princes” and search for alternative options.
PSG is currently locked in a contract with Paris City Council for a lease that will last till 2043.
In an interview with Reuters last week, a PSG spokesperson doubled down on the club’s sentiments.
“It is surprising and disappointing to hear that the Mayor of Paris is taking a position which, effectively, will force PSG … from the Parc des Princes while also … adding tens of millions of euros to the taxpayer burden to maintain the structure of the building…,” the spokesperson told said.
“PSG has already invested more than 85 million euros to maintain the stadium, while committing an additional 500 million euros in renovations for our fans and to allow PSG to grow and compete with other clubs at the highest level in Europe.”
The official clarified that PSG would only make the suggested expenditure if the club owns the stadium.
“It is regrettable the Mayor is now suddenly foreclosing — definitively — the sale discussions we’ve been having for a long time, with the club now sadly forced to advance alternative options for our home, which is not the outcome the club or our fans were hoping for,” the spokesperson added.
The stadium has been the home of the football giants since 1970 but failure to come to a deal will see the club move elsewhere, with Stade de France emerging as a possible alternative, as per reports.
The Ligue 1 team PSG reportedly made a bid to purchase Parc des Princes in November of last year, according to French media.
Chairman of Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) and PSG President Nasser Al Khelaifi spoke to Marca at the time however, stating: “Our first choice is for us to stay, but I don’t think the city council want us to stay. They are pressuring us to leave. We have been in discussions with them for five years. Every time there are the same false promises: today, tomorrow, these elections, the next elections. We’re fed up with it.
“We need a fair agreement. I love the Parc des Princes; it is our history, and I respect it more than anything, and staying has always been our first choice.”
The mayor of Paris at the time, Emmanuel Gregoire said PSG’s offer to purchase the stadium was not serious.
“We haven’t categorically excluded the possibility of a sale, but only at the right price. PSG are offering €40m. It’s less than Paredes. Really?!? Do you really think that the Parc des Princes is worth less than Paredes, who was bought for €50m? It’s not serious,” Gregoire said, according to reports
Chadwick said the latest dispute suggests QSI, PSG, and the French capital’s city authorities are increasingly at a “competitive disadvantage both in terms of commercial performance and local economic impact” – especially when comparing the Parc des Princes to either the recently built Tottenham Hotspur stadium or the renovated Bernabeu in Madrid.
“If stakeholders in Paris want the club and its infrastructural assets to remain relevant and at the cutting edge, then a mutually acceptable way forward needs to be identified and agreed,” the professor suggested.
Otherwise, Chadwick argued, there may be unfavourable outcomes in the forthcoming time for all parties involved.
“Before this however, there is a process of politicking which we are currently in the midst of – one assumes, that the political process inside Paris will be mature enough to agree upon an outcome that meets the needs of relevant stakeholders,” Chadwick said..