‘Resentful and proud’ – Story behind PSG’s battle for Parc des Princes

The President of Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser al-Khelaïfi, confirmed that the deadlock for the sale of the Parc des Princes was over. PSG would leave their historic stadium after failing to convince the City of Paris and its mayor, Anne Hidalgo, to sell to the club. 

al-Khelaïfi on the matter was clear, the battle was finished. “It’s easy to say now that the stadium is no longer for sale. We know what we want. We have wasted years trying to buy the Parc. It’s over now. We want to move out of the Parc.” 

It was a statement that put an end to the years-long brinksmanship between al-Khelaïfi and Hidalgo as they waited for the other to blink first. For months it had been reported that neither side was in communication with the other despite the ongoing ‘negotiations’ for the stadium. 

Neither party was willing to make the first step and re-engage contact with the other, as neither the mayor nor president wanted to be seen as having given in to the other. In a report by L’Équipe, a source close to the two central figures in the battle for the future of the Parc des Princes refers to them as similar, “they are very resentful and proud, both of them.” 

This comes some way to explaining how we have arrived in the predicament that we find ourselves in where PSG threaten to leave their stadium, and the City of Paris will have a nearly 50,000-capacity stadium without a tenant. 

From ‘My Nasser’ to a ‘ridiculous’ offer 

The relationship between Hidalgo and al-Khelaïfi had not always been bad, before their conflict the mayor was said to have referred to the president as “my Nasser,” whilst the president would greet her with a kiss. 

Hidalgo could often be spotted visiting the stadium to support the team and was said by L’Équipe to have helped celebrate the arrival of Neymar Jr. to the club in 2017 by agreeing to the president’s request to light the Eiffel Tower in yellow and green. 

Until the summer of 2022, the City of Paris and PSG held regular discussions over the club’s aims to increase the capacity of the Parc from its current 47,000 to 57,000. And during these conversations, PSG were repeatedly clear that it would only proceed with these improvements on the condition that it became the owner of the stadium. 

It is thought that the city at the time was happy to engage in these conversations and was open to the process of selling the stadium to the club, even asking PSG to make an offer. However, communications began to fray over the initial evaluation proposed by the club. 

PSG offered just below €40 million for the Parc. An offer that was considered insultingly low by the City Council, with Hidalgo publicly criticising the opening offer as being “ridiculous,” thereby beginning the process to which by this year further negotiations had completely deteriorated, as both sides became entrenched in their position. 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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