Top 14 Finances
A report in France's Midi Olympique has lifted the lid on the financial state of France's clubs. Gavin Mortimer reported that Midi investigated the financial profit/losses for every professional club in the country for the 2013/14 season.
The result was that the cumulative deficit for the professional clubs was €33m. That equates to the biggest deficit recorded since the creation of the LNR - the association that runs the professional rugby leagues in France.
Only two clubs in the Top 14 posted positive financial results for that season. It may come as a surprise that one of those clubs was Toulon (€690,000), as well as Brive (€202,000). The nouveau riche French giants won their first European title in that season.
Midi also reports that Toulon are the only Top 14 club that were shown to have financial stability and liquidity despite their massive wagebill and big spending. This is in direct comparison to seven clubs having the same financial stability the year before.
While big spending Toulon are one of the positive surprises, the other big spending clubs do feature at the bottom of the list, with Johnny Sexton's Racing Metro as one of three clubs who make up 75% of the €33m budget.
Part of Racing Metro's expenditure aside from players has been the development of their new training ground facilities and a new stadium in the centre of Paris.
While it appears that Stade Francais are in financial trouble again after their difficulties in 2011 nearly saw them relegated from the Top 14.
If you wanted a clear depiction of the financial power of the French clubs then the increase in the average budget in the last ten years will surprise you. To compare these figures, the current Aviva Premiership salary cap is £5.5m
It'll tough to see how the Irish provinces compete with this financial clout that has seen All Black Colin Slade add to the growing legion in the French Top 14 after he signed for James Coughlan's Pau.
Photo Credit Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile