Last year’s Super League Grand Finalists’ Catalans Dragons could be set for a key funding cut with the city of Perpignan confirming an inability to fund two professional sports teams.
This potentially major blow came with confirmation from the Mayor of Perpignan that he and the city would be taking more of a backseat in the funding of Catalans and the city’s rugby union team.
Perpignan is a small region in the south of France where approximately 120,000 people live, however, it’s a region with both professional rugby league and rugby union teams.
Of course, Catalans Dragons are the rugby league side whereas USAP are the rugby union club and they play in the Top-14, France’s top flight of rugby union.
The Mayor of Perpignan, Louis Aliot, has now made it evident that the city cannot finance both clubs and is therefore asking them to be more active in their funding, particularly any investments.
This news comes as Catalans are building a new stand, something that Mayor Aliot has confirmed will still be financed, but beyond that, both clubs have been urged to become more independent.
It’s a major blow for both sides but of course Catalans Dragons who have been flying high in the past five years in Super League, firmly establishing themselves as one of the competition’s elite clubs.
It’s unclear just how much the city had been funding or supporting the club, therefore it also remains unclear what level of impact this will have on Steve McNamara’s side.
However, given the huge travel costs that the team faces, more so than any other Super League side, it’s a major blow. News of this removal of financial support was first reported by L’Independant in France.
How could Catalans Dragons be affected?
Whilst the actual amount of money that the city had been providing the club with is unclear, any loss for the club will be a major blow given the small financial margins that rugby league clubs work on,
For Catalans, those margins are likely less than most given that they have to fly their whole squad to England 14 times a season, and potentially more if they’re in either play-off or Challenge Cup action in England.
The club are already set to go through somewhat of a transitional year given the huge turnover of players that they have had, including some of their most experienced heads departing.
Both Mitchell Pearce and Sam Tomkins have retired which left a huge hole in their leadership group and spine, however, the club have recruited Theo Fages and Jayden Nikorima to serve as their new half-back tandem.
Losing Adam Keighran to Super League champions Wigan Warriors was another major blow and in a position that the club have struggled to replace.
The season-long loan deal for Jordan Abdull could see Nikorima move into the centres but there’s still a lot of uncertainty around the team this season.
That uncertainty is only heightened by this news of funds being cut by the city.
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