Many rugby supporters assume that ASM Clermont is owned by Michelin, the giant tyre company.
This is not strictly true. However, the origins of the rugby club are in the Michelin factories of Clermont Auvergne. And the two organizations are very closely associated.
Who Owns ASM Clermont Rugby Club?
ASM Clermont, a French rugby club in the Top 14, is a professional sports limited company (SASP). This structure operates like a PLC with shareholders and a board of directors.
99% of the shares are owned by ASM Omnisports, which was founded in 1911 by Marcel Michelin as a company sports club.
What Is ASM Omnisports?
ASM Omnisports is a club that supports many different sports in the local region (hence the “Omni”). The Michelin company provide most of the funding for the club.
Rugby is just one of the sports. Here are a few other examples:
The athletics track is made of recycled Michelin tyres.
Does Michelin Own Clermont Rugby Club?
Michelin does not own the ASM Clermont rugby club directly. However, there is a very close association between the two organizations. Let’s run through a few of the ties.
Michelin set up the company that owns 99% of the shares of ASM Clermont rugby club.
The board of the rugby club always has several current or former senior executives from Michelin.
Michelin provides a lot of funding
ASM Clermont has several major partners who provide sponsorship and leadership. The list includes Renault (the auto giant) and Paprec (the waste giant).
Michelin is the main partner in this small group that provides over 50% of the club’s annual funding. This worked out at about €15 million in the 2020/21 season.
There’s a breakdown of the club revenue here (the article is in French).
Michelin owns the stadium
Michelin owns several stadiums in the Clermont Auvergne region, including Stade Marcel Michelin.
The ASM rugby club rents this stadium for home matches.
Who Was Marcel Michelin?
Marcel Michelin is considered to be the founder of the ASM Clermont rugby club.
He was the son of Andre, the founder of the Michelin tyre company. The first tyre factory was in Clermont Auvergne.
Marcel Michelin was a talented athlete who contracted Diptheria in 1911 when he was twenty-five. The disease nearly crippled his right shoulder.
He sought out a physical education teacher who worked with him on sporting exercises for six months. When he strengthened his limbs, he became convinced that sport and physical education was a necessity for everybody.
The young Michelin persuaded his family to set up a sports club for the factory workers. This was the start of the Michelin Association of Sports (or Association Sportive Michelin in French).
The French acronym is ASM.
The club was by no means exclusive to rugby. It supported all forms of exercise from athletics to wrestling. It also expanded beyond the factory workers to be open to the youth of the region of Clermont Auvergne.
Marcel Michelin later became a resister during the occupation of France in World War II. He was imprisoned in the Buchenwald Camp where he died in 1945.
How Did ASM get Its Name?
As I mentioned, the club was originally called the Association Sportive Michelin.
But a new government directive prohibited the use of company names in sporting associations.
The club was in Montferrand, so they changed the name to the Association Sportive Montferrand. By using the placename of Montferrand, they could keep the original initials.
When Did ASM Clermont Go Professional?
The French Rugby Union was resistant to professionalism. Whereas English clubs went professional in 1995, it took another few years for the FRU to get on board.
This caused a slump in results for the French national team, so the FRU had to act.
ASM Clermont was one of the big French clubs that turned professional in 1998. They have gone through several different incarnations of corporate structure.
The club is currently structured as a SASP, which I’ll explain in the next section.
What Is a SASP In France?
Clermont Rugby Club is structured as what’s known as a SASP in France. The acronym stands for Société Anonyme Sportive Professionnelle.
This is a special type of public limited company that applies to professional sporting clubs. It is governed by a board of directors and is owned by shareholders.
One interesting rule is that a director cannot be on the board of another SASP in the same sport. In practical terms, this means that one person can’t run several professional rugby clubs in France.
How Much Do Players Earn At The Club?
Curious about salaries for the average player and the big stars?
Check out our article on how much Clermont rugby players earn.