Canal Plus kicks team to the curb

Paybox's losses with club totaled $288 million

Canal Plus has severed a link with its past, recently selling the Paris Saint Germain soccer club to two investment funds.

Bought by Canal Plus in 1991, PSG was a corporate trophy that came to symbolize the paybox’s changing fortunes. In the early days the club — like Canal Plus — was at the top of its game, nabbing major prizes in France and Europe. But by the late ’90s it hit a losing streak that no amount of pay TV cash seemed able to halt.

The paybox’s losses with the club over the past eight years totaled $288 million. Adding to Canal Plus’ woes, the club became embroiled in a series of corruption scandals, further denting an image tarnished by the club’s notoriously thuggish fans.

California-based fund Colony Capital and France’s Butler Capital Partners, associated with Morgan Stanley, have paid $49.6 million for the former French champs, becoming the first investment funds to own a Gallic soccer club.

Colony specializes in real estate, prompting speculation in Gaul that over and above the soccer team, which has had a mixed run so far this season, that the funder’s real interest is the land on which the club’s stadium, the Parc des Princes, sits. It’s on a prime spot to the south-west of Paris.