Top 14: The MHR is finally acquitted regarding the exceeding of the payroll ceiling

RUGBY We explain here to you the (many) conflicts between the MHR rugby club and the authorities of the rugby discipline

No exceeding of the payroll ceiling. The appeal board of the FFR (French Rugby Federation), called into question in 2017 in the Altrad-Laporte case, again cleared Montpellier, the club of the “businessman sponsor” of the XV of France, for the second year in a row, says the AFP.

The rugby club has not been entirely whitened, however. The FFR Appeal Commission has inflicted on the MHR club, owned by Mohed Altrad (the biggest fortune of the French Occitanie region with 3.3 billion euros according to the magazine ‘Challenges’, and also candidate for mayor next year in Montpellier) a fine of 120,000 euros for “breach of transparency obligations”. But on the other hand, it completely cleared the MHR regarding the exceeding of the payroll ceiling (for which the specialised section of the Disciplinary Committee of the League had, in October, inflicted a much heavier penalty: 400,000 euros).

A snub for the National Rugby League

According to this “salary cap” section, the MHR exceeded in the 2017-2018 season by more than 428,000 euros the ceiling of the wage bill, fixed at 11.3 million euros for all clubs in the Top 14. A regulation tool the LNR (National Rugby League) relies upon to ensure “fairness and uncertainty” of the championship and “the economic balance of clubs”.

The decision of the Appeal Commission of the FFR is therefore a snub for the LNR, which “is surprised and deplores the questioning of this decision of first instance”. But it is not the first one; it is indeed the third time in three years that the club of the French businessman gets more favorable decisions from the federal level.

Already “pointed” by the National Rugby League

In 2018, Montpellier, already pointed to exceed the famous “salary cap”, was first cleared by the DNACG (French National Committee for Assistance and Management Control), the financial constable of the LNR. The latter then appealed to the FFR Appeal Board, which upheld the decision of the DNACG.

In 2017, the MHR was pinned by the League, with a fine of 70,000 euros and a ground suspension, for hostile banners deployed during the match against Racing 92. The FFR Appeal Committee had reduced this penalty and lifted the ground suspension.

At the origin of the Laporte-Altrad case

The revelations of the Journal du dimanche, according to which Bernard Laporte, president of the FFR, had intervened with the president of the Commission, Jean-Daniel Simonet, so that he showed clemency towards Montpellier, had launched the “Laporte- Altrad”. The suspicions of conflict of interests between Laporte and Altrad go back to that time, when Laporte had recognised the existence of a private contract linking him to Altrad, to which he had given up in front of the controversy. But since then, Altrad has become the first jersey sponsor of the XV de France (for 5 years and 35 million euros) and official partner of the FFR. And a key figure, by his financial support, in the French victorious candidacy to the organisation of the World Cup 2023.

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