A new actor appears in the credits of the soap opera caused by the extension of the Stade Rennais training center. It has the features of justice: the association La Nature en ville has lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court to have the contract concluded between the City of Rennes and Stade Rennais annulled. The document – an “administrative emphyteutic lease” – frames this expansion project, validated by the Rennes municipality last June. But serious doubts weigh on its legality, according to the arguments presented to the judge.

A new pebble in the shoes of the SRFC which has been repeating it for years: its Piverdière training center must be quickly upgraded to keep up with the best clubs. It will also be an opportunity to bring together its infrastructures in one place. Problem: it needs new surfaces. However, the only land available around the current site, in the heart of the Prévalaye natural area, is arable land.

Unacceptable, in the eyes of the actors on the spot and several collectives, gathered within the Management Committee of the Prévalaye, set up by the town hall to channel the opposition. After months of discussions and multiple changes of footing, the Stadium finally decided on an extension to 3.5 ha, mainly for new training grounds. Much less than initially expected. Satisfied, the City therefore signed a contract with the club to, among other things, allocate new plots. But some remain mobilized against the project, in the name of the fight against the artificialization of agricultural land.

Was there a competition?

It is therefore in this highly political context that the court will have to decide. At the heart of the dispute: the lack of competition to decide who should occupy these plots. The municipality considers that it did not have to do this, in particular because there are no competing clubs to occupy the training center. The City/SRFC contract also takes care to show that the legal conditions for derogating from this selection procedure are met. But not enough to convince the association’s lawyer. According to him, these plots could very well have been devolved to other entities than a football club. So there should have been competition.

Another argument: the reason given for signing this deal. The contract sees the project as “an operation of general interest”, which allows Rennes to “maintain the establishment of the SRFC on its territory, to participate in the influence of the city and to enhance its real estate heritage”. Arguments rejected en bloc and in detail. “It is difficult to understand how there would be a general interest (…)”, replies the lawyer, since “the use of the land only benefits Stade Rennes, which can carry out its economic activity there”.

The recourse, long of about twenty pages, develops many other arguments which would taint the legality of the contract. ? La Nature en ville is not at its first attempt: it had already obtained the cancellation of the municipal decrees authorizing the felling of trees on Avenue Janvier. In its legal battle, the association is supported by the Prévalaye Safeguard Collective, opposed to any extension. Will she get another win? The ball is now in the City’s court, which has not yet communicated.

Rennes – Extension of Stade Rennais: is the contract between the City and the club illegal?