Column: Oh-la-la: When England buys, France swoons

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“Perhaps we should look on the bright side of things here and tell ourselves that it will give chances to youngsters, to other players, and perhaps clean up the finances of quite a few clubs,” said Lyon coach Remi Garde. “All French clubs have entered a period of austerity.”

France can also take pride that it has so many players to sell.

Stainrod, who lives in Cannes on the French Riviera, called France “the European Brazil for producing players,” with a conveyor belt of talent from youth training programs that “is second to none.”

Still, that France can’t keep more players is a sign of comparative weakness. Bigger television revenues give Premier League teams more financial clout than French ones. Montpellier earned $47 million in TV income in 2012 when it won France’s Ligue 1. That is half the size of the TV bonanza that went to Premier League champion Manchester City and considerably less, even, than the $63 million Wolverhampton Wanderers got in finishing last in England’s top league.

“They’re not buying our players to flatter us but because they’re good value,” said Jean-Louis Triaud, president of Bordeaux, which got $3.3 million from Newcastle for Gouffran.

“For me, it’s just a reality we can’t fight,” he said in a phone interview. French players’ “transfers and salaries cost less. They would be silly not to take advantage of that.”

Or, as they say in Newcastle, at least for now: Vive la France!

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John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jleicester(at)ap.org or follow him at http://twitter.com/johnleicester

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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