Football without noise and passionate fans is nothing. This is what the owners of PSG have noticed. In a short statement at the French TV-Channel BFM website a little while ago, the president and owner expressed his surprise about the lack of noisy support of the fans for Zlatan and Company.
Surprise? No Surprise!
The statement is at once surprising and not at all surprising. It is surprising that the president of the club speaks out so bluntly about the lack of support of the paying public. He must therefore have a reason to demand the supporters to stand behind the team from kick-off until the final whistle. Indeed, the Parc appears to be quiet during games. Living in close vicinity of the ground, the roar only becomes audible once there is a goal or a disputable decision. Other than that, it is fairly quiet. It is thus not surprising that someone speaks out and demands a bit of atmosphere.
Yet, the days of atmosphere are a thing of the past in Paris. Ever since the ban of both camps of supporters, the Boulogne Kop and the Virage Auteuil in 2010, the Parc has fallen silent. When Dortmund played PSG in 2010 in a Europa League group game, there were nearly 10000 supporters from Dortmund who created more noise than the home crowd. Back then, the ground was not even sold out, giving even more weight and volume to the Dortmund fans. Therefore, the cry of the PSG president for support is not surprising as even before his family took over the Parc des Princes witnessed the biggest wipe out in its checkered history. The new owners came in during the summer of 2011 and accelerated the process of gentrification PSG by increasing ticket prices. It is therefore also the fault of his own policy that the president bemoans.
Football is not the most popular sport in France; cycling, golf and tennis enjoy much more popularity. The big clubs are enjoying sell-out stadia for most of the matches but the smaller clubs struggle to draw huge gate figures. Away fans are practically non-existent. The problem for PSG is that it is located in the 16th arrondissement, one of, if not THE poshest neighbourhood in Paris. There is probably no football club in France or Europe that is so entirely disconnected from its fan base than Paris. Most supporters come from across Paris and the Ile de France, less from the 16th. It came to light in 2013 when fans celebrated the league title and the party turned into a riot. All parties involved, the club, police and supporters had their share of the guilt for the tumultuous scenes on the Champs Elysées. The Club for wanting to celebrate on one of Europe’s most expensive streets, dangerously underestimated their fan base who would rarely be seen on this avenue. The fans for being over joyous and maybe overreacting to the police present. The police for acting quick, maybe too quick to disperse the crowd once an element of unruliness became palpable. On that day this mix proved too much and the celebrations were cut short with the squad aiming to show off their trophies hurrying to safety.
Adding to the location, the increased prices have added insult to injury and prevented many from going to the ground to attend matches. Those are the people creating an atmosphere. Without these the Parc has become silent with the odd eruption, of course. It is no surprise that there are people attending games that have no clue about football nor do they care about who is PSG and who the visiting team. Further, the expectations on the team to play exciting football are incredibly high. No team can keep such a high tempo throughout a game, let alone reproduce this each and every game. This cannot work.
With such a situation, it is clear that the ground is quiet.