Skip to main content

"If you want some accessible but informative insight into football then I suggest you couldn't do better than the Political Economy of Football website, which is not only intelligible but comes with the added bonus of being written by Addicks fan Wyn Grant."
Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

The strange tale of the club on top of a car park


As far as I know, only one European club has its stadium built on top of a car park: Monaco's Stade Louise. Of course, space is at a premium in the densely populated principality with its very rich inhabitants.   The principality's royal family is an endless source of fascination for celebrity magazines.   If it was a Hollwyood film, you would think it was pure fiction.  

But then at least Monaco has a top flight club whereas San Marino' s claim to fame is an international team that invariably gets beaten.   Liechtenstein at least has a team in the Swiss League and its international team does slightly better.   Little has been heard recently of plans for a Vatican City team, despite that the fact that the current pope and his predecessor are football fans.

Monaco gets regular crowds of just 8,000 and many of these come from across the border in France. The club is owned by Russian fertiliser magnate Dmitry Rybolovev.  He came up with a plan to replace the vast majority of the seats with executive boxes, greatly reducing capacity but increasing the value of each guest (one could hardly call them 'fans' or even 'spectators').   It would be Europe's first boutique football club.

Howver, recently the proverbial seems to have hit the fan as far as the Russian's plans are concerned.   Quite why he abandoned his project as quickly as it started remains unclear.

He did have to pay his ex-wife £2.7 billion in a divorce settlement, but this is probably not such a large sum by his standards.     He doesn't seem to have pleased by Monaco's refusal to issue him with a passport which suggests that even in the Ruritanian world of the principality there are limits.   He was also surprised to get a £37.5m bill from France's football authorities to offeset the advantages of playing in a tax haven (no similar bill appears to have been sent to the Green Lions of Guernsey).

It is more likely that he has taken notice of the stiff penalties imposed by Uefa on Manchester City and PSG under its financial fair play rules.   Monaco are no longer on a fast track to the European elite.  But they are one of three or four clubs capable of challenging PSG's dominance in Ligue 1.