A brief history of PSG

  • Jonathan Johnson
  • August 17, 2012

Formed: 1970
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1995-96
Ligue 1: 1985-86, 1993-94
Ligue 2: 1970-71
Coupe de France: 8
Coupe de la Ligue: 3
Trophee des Champions: 1995, 1998

Given the size and the current status of the club, you would be forgiven for thinking that Paris Saint-Germain are one of the giants of European football. But, in fact, PSG are recognised more widely for their reputation as the darlings of one of the most famous cities in the world than for what they have actually done on the pitch so far. Despite enjoying moderate success domestically, the club have only won the league title twice, the last time being in 1994. The arrival of the 'golden generation' of the mid-90s sparked a brief flirtation with European success, but that never extended further than appearances in two consecutive Cup Winners' Cup finals. Carlo Ancelotti and his men will be aiming to rewrite that history in the coming years...

Formed in 1970, modern-day Paris Saint-Germain is the result of a merger between Stade Saint-Germain and Paris FC. PSG play their games in Paris at the Parc des Princes after spending their formative years using Stade Georges Lefevre (now the club's training complex known as Camp des Loges) but they also represent the suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, now popular with the expatriate community. Presided over by a group of wealthy businessmen, the club grew at an astounding pace early on and les Rouge-et-Bleu and were Ligue 2 winners in their first year of existence.

The club's first domestic honours of note arrived in the 1980s, with Coupe de France success in 1982 and 1983 before their first league title in 1986. These successes in turn led to European involvement, with the club sampling top continental competition for the first time in their history. Despite no achievements during that period, the club won many fans due to their entertaining style of play and their matches against Juventus in particular live long in the memory of seasoned fans.

However, it was not until the '90s that PSG really started to develop as a giant of French football. The club entered their 'Golden Era' following the takeover of the club by television giants Canal+, a partnership that lasted until 2007. An avalanche of trophies followed, not to mention the first wave of world-class players to grace the hallowed Parc des Princes turf thanks to the considerable investment of their owners.

The club contested two UEFA Cup Winners' Cup finals in 1996 and 1997. They won the first one against Rapid Vienna, and lose the second to Barcelona. They also reached the UEFA Champions League semi-final once and the UEFA Cup semi-finals twice. Domestically, they were enjoying as much success as George Weah, Rai, Leonardo and a strong spine of homegrown talent became the darlings of French football. PSG celebrated their second and most recent league title in 1994, lifting the Coupe de France three times, the Coupe de la Ligue twice and Trophee des Champions twice before the turn of the century.

They then went into decline following years of mismanagement and a failure to capture the best local talent, who in turn opted to join PSG's league rivals, strengthening the opposition while the capital club went in search of the best international talent in an attempt to replace the departed members of the 'golden generation'. Three more domestic trophies arrived but the club instead became better known for lurching from one high-profile crisis to another, and the nasty spectre of hooliganism began to plague the club, an affliction that current day PSG are still trying to fully eradicate.

Les Parisiens' form dwindled as they slipped further down the table and eventually, a split from owners Canal+ became inevitable. That divorce arrived in 2007 after years of underachievement and the club's purchase by Colony Capital, Butler Capital Partners and Morgan Stanley was completed that year. PSG slumped to a miserable 16th place, narrowly avoiding relegation. The club then launched a brief comeback in 2008 as they tussled for the title, eventually finishing in sixth place as well as winning the Coupe de la Ligue and reaching the final of the Coupe de France, but that optimism was short-lived. Colony Capital eventually bought out Morgan Stanley's shares in the club to become 95% owners, but it wasn't until 2011 that PSG finally restored a sense of balance.

After two years of solid progress and stability under the stewardship of Antoine Kombouare and Robin Leproux, the club was purchased by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), whose arrival coincided with the upturn in fortunes for French football after years in the doldrums. QSI made a number of bold statements upon their arrival, such as a pledge to form a team capable of winning the Champions League and making the club France's biggest name.

Club legend Leonardo was brought back in a sporting director capacity and oversaw a spending spree that has so far been unprecedented in Ligue 1 history. Despite finishing behind Montpellier in the 2011-12 season, PSG set a league record of 79 points for a second-placed team.


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