“A huge disappointment”. After two weeks of fighting with his back to bankruptcy, Romain Peugeot gave up on Thursday to buy FC Sochaux Montbéliard (FCSM), the football club of his ancestors, which is taking a step closer to relegation and filing for bankruptcy. Abandoned by its Chinese shareholder, the almost century-old club still hoped on Thursday to obtain a stay of administrative justice to find Ligue 2 and start again with a budget accordingly. But this hope turned out to be in vain.

“We have just learned of the decision of the Paris administrative court dated August 3, 2023 which refuses to examine the request of the FCSM on the grounds that the urgency has not been demonstrated, while the Ligue 2 championship begins. this Saturday”, announced Mr. Peugeot in a press release sent in the evening.

The group of investors surrounding Mr. Peugeot, great-grandson of the founder of the club, “can only regret that his project financed in full (…) is not taken into account, despite the documents communicated demonstrating this “. However, “the solution we proposed is only viable in the Ligue 2 championship”. According to his lawyer Laurent Cotret, Mr. Peugeot, supported by several local authorities, had the necessary funds, namely 8.5 million euros, to ensure the sustainability of the FCSM.

“The filing for bankruptcy seems inevitable,” said Florian Bouquet, president of the departmental council of the Territory of Belfort. “It’s a massive blow for employees and supporters, as well as for communities and club partners.” “It’s the end of an adventure that lasted almost 100 years.”

The Sochaux club, 9th in L2 at the end of the last exercise, was trying to escape its demotion to National by the National Management Control Department (DNCG), an offshoot of the French Football Federation (FFF). Its relegation benefits Annecy, 17th and relegated, which will be drafted into the second division, the first day of which begins on Saturday.

Seized Thursday morning, the executive committee of the FFF had not wanted to rule on the appeal of Sochaux pending the decision of the TA and let it be known that it would not rule if the appeal of the FCSM were to be rejected. A first appeal to the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) had already been rejected on Tuesday.

The Sochaux club is the property of the Chinese real estate group Nenking, in great financial difficulty. “It is now up to this shareholder to take responsibility,” said Romain Peugeot, a 33-year-old London-based financier.

“All remedies have been exhausted,” admitted the deputy (Renaissance) of Doubs Nicolas Pacquot. The “fight” now must be “to play in the days to come in National 1”, he said, judging National 3 as a “catastrophe scenario” for the economy as for the territory. “By sacrificing the yellows and blues, this evening the (French football) Federation also sacrificed the training center,” he pointed out. Founded in 1928 in the birthplace of car manufacturer Peugeot, the Sochaux club was a model of stability for nearly 90 years when it was owned by the family of the same name, who sold it in 2014.

Arrested by a trade unionist from Stellantis Sochaux, who exclaimed “Peugeot, your child is dying”, the car manufacturer had opposed Thursday an end of inadmissibility. “Marketing activities are now centered on sports which allow us to highlight electrical technologies and our products”, replied Stellantis, interviewed by France 3 Franche Comté.

Sochaux is one of the founders of the first professional French Championship, in 1932-1933. The Cubs were French champions twice (1935, 1938) and won the Coupe de France twice (1937, 2007), as well as the Coupe de la Ligue in 2004.