The first factor that has to be considered is AS Monaco’s fan base. Year after year, Monaco ranks among the bottom (if not the bottom as far as percentage of seats occupied) in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 attendance. If we look at the last time that Monaco was in Ligue 1, which was the 2010-11 season, their attendance rarely exceeded 10,000 spectators. What is even more interesting is if we examine visiting teams that usually draw a crowd, like Marseille — only 10,991 showed up to see OM play at the Stade Louis II. In comparison, 49,384 showed up at The Velodrome to see visiting Monaco play Marseille. This trend continues with the other top teams as well. With Lyon, only 11,140 fans showed up to Stade Louis II, with 35,257 showing up at the Stade Gerland for Monaco.
In both the Marseille and Lyon case, travel from these cities to Monaco is less than three hours away, so many of the fans attending the games could be from the visiting side. So what about other clubs that are located further away? The numbers get worse. PSG only drew 9,338, Lille only 7,986 and Bordeaux only 5,023. In the case of Bordeaux, only 27% of the Stade Louis II was occupied.
An important factor when examining fan bases in French football is that they cannot be artificially created. Even if a team is successful on the European level (which Monaco has had small success), that success isn’t transferred over into international, or even local, popularity. We can look at both PSG and Marseille, the French clubs with the largest international following, and see that their fan base still remains strongly rooted in France. With that being said, Monaco still needs to actually build a French fan base before they can even consider building an international base.
One thing that seems to have been misunderstood by Dmitry Rybolovlev’s people is the concept of sport in France. French sport supporters are very rigid on what sports they follow. Some like soccer and only soccer. Some like rugby and only rugby. Some like both sports, and some like neither. With that being said, it is less likely to bring new fans into French football that aren’t already there. In addition to sports loyalty, there is also rigid team loyalty. Supporters who are OGC Nice fans won’t jump over to support AS Monaco FC because it is a newly successful team that is close. Nice fans will remain Nice fans through thick and thin. Therefore, Monaco won’t be able to get new fans from other sports or other teams, because it just doesn’t happen that way in France.