Multiple reports have emerged in the French media today highlighting the budgets of the Top 14 clubs for the 2018/19 season.
Stade Français sit top of the pile with a budget of €34m, with the formerly financially-challenged Parisian side benefiting from their takeover by Hans-Peter Wild last year, with the German billionaire unafraid of investing heavily into the club.
It comes just a year after a mooted merger between Stade and their local rivals, Racing 92, in a move that was considered more accurately to be a takeover by Racing and their owner, Jacky Lorenzetti. By contrast now, Racing sit at 9th in the financial table, with a budget of €24m.
Perennial French heavyweights Clermont (€32.5m), Toulouse (€32m) and Toulon (€30m) follow closely behind Stade, whilst the recent upward trajectory of Lyon sees them at 5th with a budget of €29.8m.
Montpellier (€27m), La Rochelle (€25.6m) and Pau (€25m) all also boast budgets larger than Racing, but the Parisian side will be investing slightly more than current Top 14 champions Castres, whose budget sits at €23.7m.
Following up are Bordeaux-Bègles (€23m), Grenoble (€18m) and Perpignan (€16m), with Agen the lowest spenders for the upcoming season, committing to a budget of just €13.8m.
The task that Agen face on such a relatively small budget is well-illustrated by the expenditure at the top of the Pro D2, where Nevers (€12.4m), Brive (€12.2m), Oyonnax (€11m) and Bayonne (€11m) operate on similar outgoings.
With five teams in the Top 14 spending more than double what Agen will this season and a further four clubs operating on €10m or more above the levels of the club from the south-west, Agen will need to punch well above their weight to avoid the drop this season.
Can Racing and Castres continue to fight it out at the top of the table in the wake of new money arriving elsewhere in the competition and can Stade translate their big spending into success on the pitch?
The 2018/19 Top 14 season is set to be one of the most intriguing yet.
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