The French team of Elan Béarnais Pau-Orthez, a traditional force in the Hexagon and in the whole of Europe reported spectacular and frightening news this week: A financial disaster has emerged and the possibility of the club’s demise has been discussed in the media. But yesterday, everything started heading in the right direction.
The story surfaced when the team sought to build its budget for the next season, and the figures published by the French Media were disastrous. First of all, during the 2007/2008 season, a deficit of €400,000 remains after poor results once again. A multitude of players entered and left the Béarn roster, and the coaching job was also not as secure as in years past.
Additionally, the waiving of Gordon Herbert, Souarata Cissé and Mate Skelin were contested in court, with the ruling stating that their salaries must be paid even if the players have already left the team, coming to another €450.000 for Skelin and unidentified sums for Gordon Herbert and Cissé. Additionally, the departure of living legend Pierre Seillant added more problems than expected for the team to find a successor to this mythic figure of the French basketball scene.
Now this Friday, things took a turn for the better with the addition of new funds brought by the local authorities and in the addition of new shareholders. Among the latter, you can find former Pau-Orthez players and current NBA millionaires Boris Diaw and Mickael Pietrus. The team’s capital has now been raised from €963,000 to nearly €2 million; this additional reserve has been built in order to more healthily withstand difficult periods.
And who will take over Seillant’s reign? It will be Claude Bergeaud who will be the new president of the Elan Béarnais Pau-Orthez. With a confirmed budget of €4 million, the team will try to find its way back to the old glory days with a new team built essentially on their youth players. Only Ludo Vaty and Antoine Mendy will remain with the team, while hopeful youngsters like Fernando Raposo, Lamine Sambe and especially top prospect Thomas Heurtel will have a much more important role during the next season.
With the call for help during the week, Pierre Seillant once again did a huge job for his team. Everybody showed the love for Pau-Orthez and produced money to save the team. Let’s just hope the team will learn its lesson and emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.