Riches to rags as Monaco face drop

by AP on May 20, 2011

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The contrast between the windswept industrial north and snazzy Monaco with its plush lifestyle of royalty and casinos couldn't be starker.

But when it comes to football, it appears northern grit is what it takes if you want success, while riches can turn to rags if money is wedded to complacency and under-achievement.

As Lille look to secure their first French title in more than half a century, needing one point from their final two games to be sure, Monaco will stand on the brink of the drop if they lose at Montpellier on Saturday.

The principality side, 2000 league champions and 2004 Champions League finalists, currently sit in the drop zone a point behind Nancy - who travel to Rennes - and two behind Brest and Nice, who face Auxerre and Lorient

Although Lens, themselves title winners in 1998, and Arles have already been relegated, the final club to fall through the trapdoor could be any one of nine clubs.

But after garnering only eight wins all campaign, Monaco's situation is the most precarious - especially as their final match pits them against a Lyon side determined to hold off Paris Saint Germain in the race for third place.

Former Monaco and France goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori is sad that his former side stands in such a mess.

"Frankly, going by what the group have shown to date, one ought to be very worried. We have to take at least four points from (the games against) Montpellier then Lyon. All the other clubs in danger just need one win," Ettori told L'Equipe.

Monaco are already set to lose some of what talent remains at the club including Mali international midfielder Mahamadou Diarra, who only arrived mid-season from Real Madrid.

"Things are difficult for me right now. I hope to find a club who will give me more game time," said Diarra, a five-times championship winner at Lyon who lost his place after last month's loss to Nice.

Monaco's budget is roughly comparable to that of Lille at around 53 million euros ($A71 million).

But the champions-elect, needing a draw to be sure at PSG in a re-run of the French Cup final which the leaders won 1-0, have made decidedly better use of their cash.

Deputy general director Frederic Paquet revealed Thursday that this season's turnover would likely hit 60 million euros ($A80 million) - barely two fifths of that of Lyon or Marseille but still five million above forecasts, boosted by a Europa League run and the Cup success.

A Champions League stint should bring another 15 million euros ($A20 million) or more.

In a year's time, gate revenue should also gain a shot in the arm as the club move to a new 51,000-capacity, 342 million euros ($A460 million) stadium at Villeneuve d'Ascq with a roof and a retractable pitch as one of a dozen venues for Euro 2016, which France is to host.