PSG and Monaco spending 'is madness'
Montpellier president Louis Nicollin has warned that the amount of money being spent in French football is "madness" and said he believes it will eventually lead to a financial collapse.
Nicollin, 70, will see his club take on big-spending champions Paris Saint-Germain when the new season gets under way on Friday.
The meeting of the past two league winners highlights how quickly the landscape has changed since PSG and Monaco's owners began to wield their financial power.
PSG's budget of €400 million for the season is around ten times that of Montpellier, who have in the meantime sold another four members of their title-winning team.
The champions have spent €114 million on three new signings this summer, but newly-promoted Monaco have outspent them, splashing out almost €150 million on ten players.
And Nicollin said he believed the situation was unsustainable, telling Le Parisien: “We have to live within our means, which isn't always easy.
"When you look at the squads and the sums being spent in football, I prefer to stay in the background. I want this club to last and to carry on.
"All this money -- it's madness. In my opinion, everything's going to fall apart. It's true that, every time, we say it's going to collapse and it doesn't. But it's not possible [for it to continue]."
Nicollin predicted that PSG and Monaco would monopolise the top positions in the coming years, but was adamant that Montpellier would not be tempted to try to compete financially.
"There's a well and there's water, water and yet more water,” he said. "What must not happen is that the well might one day run dry. We have a small well, we have water and we want it to always be flowing.
"When you see sums of €400,000 or €500,000 per month while there are people slaving away to earn €1,500... we’ll accept giving players €80,000 or €90,000, but not more than that."
Many French clubs are struggling to make ends meet although, in the wake of PSG and Monaco's spending, the French Football League (LFP) has seen profits from selling TV rights abroad rise from €20 to €30 million.
And LFP president Frederic Thiriez has said he believes PSG and Monaco's increasing influence can only help the image of the league.
"People have been saying for years that Ligue 1 is rubbish, that there are no big clubs," he told L’Equipe. "But you also have to look at the facts -- last year, PSG ran away with the league.
"We talk a lot about PSG's budget, but Monaco's budget of €130 million -- if we don't take into account the financial and social advantages there -- is along the same lines as that of Lyon and Marseille, around €120 million. We're heading for an English-style 'Big Four'."
Thiriez admitted that problems needed to be addressed, however, outlining his desire to reduce the top flight from 20 to 18 teams.
"Football is in recession the same way our economy is," he explained. "Transfer money is down, gate receipts aren't great and profits from sponsorship are collapsing.
"Outside of PSG and Monaco, the wage bill of clubs is down by 8%. That's huge. This year, there will be a deficit of €50-70 million in Ligue 1, compared to €61 million last season. It's not good, but it's not a disaster."