The Metropolitan of Montpellier has decided to stop funding the Open Sud de France tennis tournament, putting it in significant jeopardy.

According to MIDI LIBRE, the Open Sud de France tennis tournament, which has been based in Montpellier since 2010, may leave the Hérault region due to the complete cessation of subsidies from the Métropole. The Métropole has decided to redirect this budget towards other causes.

C’est un véritable séisme dans le monde du tennis languedocien et français. Après 13 éditions, l’Open Sud de France de Montpellier pourrait tout simplement disparaître des radars. Selon nos informations, la Métropole de Montpellier a en effet signalé l’arrêt total des subventions pour le tournoi, soit un trou à venir d’un peu plus de 400 000 €.

On the institution’s side, they fully accept the redirection of assistance from one of the only recurring events at the Sud de France Areana, which was inaugurated in 2010 a few weeks before the first edition of the Open.

« Il est regrettable, déclare Christian Assaf, vice-président de la Métropole et responsable des politiques sportives, que nous prenions cette décision à contrecœur. Je préfère réallouer une partie de ces fonds vers d’autres projets plutôt que de les consacrer à l’organisation d’un événement sportif qui était intéressant mais coûteux. Ce n’est pas une critique, mais cela représente tout de même plus de 400 000 € pour un programme qui peine à atteindre son équilibre économique malgré l’aide importante des collectivités. »

Chibli: « We are being let down. »

« If I had the means, I would have continued this funding, » Assaf continues. « But when I assemble a ‘Team Montpellier’ to subsidize 150 young athletes so that they can win medals in future Olympic Games, when I support the Nîmes-Montpellier table tennis club to stay in the top division by keeping the Lebrun brothers… I don’t make money, I can’t do everything, and governing means making choices. »

The issue is that the Montpellier Metropolis had committed to financing the event until 2024, which is when the contract between the organizer TV Sport Events and Occitanie Events, an event company owned by the Occitanie Region and the owner of the Arena, was set to expire. This sudden halt is something that Kamel Chibli, Vice President of the Region in charge of sports, would have preferred to avoid.

« I am very disappointed with this disengagement, » he laments. « Everyone manages their own issues as they see fit, but I find it unfortunate for a metropolis that wants to be the most sportive city in France. The Metropolis had committed to the 2024 edition, they are letting us down, there is no other way to put it. It is their right to question beyond 2024, but not for the next edition. »

Un tournoi prévu pour quitter Montpellier ?

Without the financial support of the Metropolis, the Region will therefore have to fill the €400,000 gap. « We will have to balance the budget ourselves. I will take on all my responsibilities and those of others. I am quite disillusioned but determined, I will act as a sales representative to save this tournament because it deserves it, just like Montpellier, and on the eve of the Olympic Games, it would not be a good image. »

This disengagement comes at an especially bad time as negotiations are currently underway for the ATP 2025 calendar. With this financial uncertainty, organizers may be tempted to relocate the tournament to other places in France, such as Lyon, where the tournament was previously held before coming to Hérault. Especially since a new venue, the LDLC Arena, is being built and the city’s men’s and women’s tournaments will disappear…

D’autres endroits en Europe pourraient même être privilégiés, là où des Arenas flambant neuves sortent de terre. Et au vu de la vitesse à laquelle le tournoi de Tel Aviv a trouvé repreneur – délocalisé à Sofia après seulement quelques jours de négociations -, l’Open Sud de France pourrait facilement changer d’air. Contacté, TV Sport Events n’a pas souhaité répondre à nos sollicitations.

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