Combien ça coute: Annuler la saison 2011/2012 de NFL

Pour celles et ceux qui ne le savaient pas, la NFL (ligue de football américain) vit l’une de ses périodes sombres puisque cela fait 45 jours que la ligue est bloquée suite au « lock-out » des propriétaires de franchise. Le lock-out signifie que les joueurs n’ont plus accès à leurs outils de travail (terrains et vestiaires d’entrainement), que le marché de transferts est gelé même si la draft (période de recrutement des nouveaux joueurs venant du sport universitaire) aura bien lieu jeudi prochain, le 28 avril.

Au coeur de ce conflit, la répartition des 9,1 milliards de dollars annuels générés par la NFL. Actuellement, les propriétaires retranchaient un milliard de dollars (720 millions d’euros) et distribuaient 60% du reste aux joueurs. Dans le futur accord collectif, les propriétaires veulent augmenter leur part de 800 millions à un milliard de dollars, et modifier le pourcentage de partage afin de couvrir les frais annexes comme le transport, l’hébergement ou la nourriture du staff et du club en déplacement ou encore l’entretien des stades et les cheerleaders! Cette augmentation a mis en rogne les joueurs, mettant en avant le fait que la part donnée aux propriétaires était largement suffisante (sans compter l’apport en droits TV qui représente 4 milliards de dollars soit 2.7 milliards d’euros pour l’année 2011 même en cas d’annulation de la saison). Pour contrecarrer cela, les joueurs de la NFL, dans un élan de solidarité ont décidé de renoncer à leur pouvoir de négociation collective, afin d’attaquer individuellement la NFL et les propriétaires de franchise d’abus de situation monopolistique… Pas très intelligent d’avoir voulu y aller « solo » car cela a eu pour conséquence directe l’annonce du « lock-out » par les propriétaires.

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Même si « Nous prévoyons jouer l’intégralité de la saison et allons tout faire pour trouver une solution», selon Roger Goodell, le commissaire de la NFL, les deux parties ont du mal à se mettre d’accord sur les termes d’une nouvelle convention collective et la médiation entre les propriétaires de la NFL et les joueurs du circuit (représentés notamment par les quarterbacks star Tom Brady & Peyton Manning) pour tenter de trouver une issue au lock-out actuel a été ajournée jusqu’au 16 mai, transférant de facto le dossier au tribunal, ce qui peut avoir comme effet de retarder encore plus le début de la saison 2011-2012.

Si la saison 2011-12 est annulée, la NFL a déclaré qu’elle maintiendrait les salaires, soit la coquette somme de 2 milliards de dollars!! Ajouté à cela, les 160 millions de dollars de perte par ville, soit 5.1 milliards de dollars au total, la facture s’élèvera au minimum à 7 milliards de dollars soit la modique somme de 4.8 milliards d’euros (soit plus que le PIB d’Haïti!!!). Tout ça, sans compter sur le manque à gagner que pourrait engendrer la non-organisation du SuperBowl, d’un point de vue publicitaire mais aussi touristique… Et ce n’est pas fini, puisque la NFL a déclaré récemment qu’en période de lock-out, elle ne prendrait pas en charge les frais de santé des joueurs. Sachant que la santé est réellement la clé du succès de ce sport, qui en fait l’un des plus spectaculaires au monde, on peut imaginer le pire pour un joueur qui se blesse durant la période de lock-out…

Au final, ce lock-out démontre que tout le système économique du football américain ne tient pas debout… Certes les sommes perçues par les propriétaires semblent énormes mais il ne faut pas oublier que de l’autre côté de la barrière, le salaire moyen d’un joueur de NFL tourne aux alentours des 2 millions de dollars annuels primes incluses (1.3 millions d’euros), ce qui est largement au-dessus du revenu moyen d’un « Average Joe ». Nous avons donc d’un côté les joueurs qui sont déjà bien payés et cherchent à gagner un maximum d’argent durant leur courte carrière (une carrière au top niveau en NFL est estimée à 3.5 ans…) et de l’autre les propriétaires qui cherchent à maximiser les profits de leur entreprise et leur ROI.

Faut-il continuer de la sorte ou revoir tout le système? Il semblerait que les discussions ne soient pas allées aussi loin puisque selon les dernières nouvelles glanées sur Twitter hier soir, il semblerait que le lock-out soit levé par la juge fédérale Susan Nelson, en charge du dossier, donnant raison aux joueurs… Mais rien n’est fini puisque les propriétaires ont la possibilité de faire appel, laissant présager une longue période d’affrontements aux tribunaux et de nouveaux épisodes dans LE sitcom du sport business.

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