Rugby Lacroix rings the changes at fallen Toulouse

The 47-year-old former Toulouse player replaces 71-year-old Jean-René Bouscatel who leaves after nearly 25 years with the southwestern club.

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Former Toulouse player Didier Lacroix looks on during a press conference announcing Lacroix as the Stade Toulousain Rugby president on May 30, 2017 play

Former Toulouse player Didier Lacroix looks on during a press conference announcing Lacroix as the Stade Toulousain Rugby president on May 30, 2017

(AFP)
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Businessman Didier Lacroix was on Tuesday appointed president of fallen French rugby giants Toulouse as the club look to rebuild financially and on the pitch after a disastrous season.

The 47-year-old former Toulouse player replaces 71-year-old Jean-René Bouscatel who leaves after nearly 25 years with the southwestern club.

After emblematic manager Guy Novès' departure two years ago, the record 19-time French champions have been in decline, missing the Top 14 play-offs for the first time since 1976.

"I've held every post in this club, there was just one missing," said Lacroix, who won six French titles and a European Cup crown in 1996 during his playing days.

He will be assisted by the club's former France international star Thomas Castaignède who arrives in a management capacity.

Lacroix's family have also a long history in Toulouse with his father Jean a former manager and brother Michel on the supervisory board.

His appointment is a bid to boost the coffers of the club which already has the biggest budget in the Top 14 with 35 million euros ($39.2m, £30.4m) annually.

Swiss sports marketing group Infront Sports & Media will take over the club's commercial management from Lacroix's company "A la Une" which had operated since 1994.

"Of course, the nerve centre of the war will be financial. It's obvious that the financial model of Stade Toulouse must be thought out," said Lacroix.

Owned by China's Wanda conglomerate since 2015, Infront -- headed by Philippe Blatter, nephew of former FIFA boss Sepp -- has already injected 3.5 million euros into the club.

Among Infront's clients are world football governing body FIFA, the French Football League, the Italian and German football federations, AS Monaco, Inter Milan and many winter sports federations.

Infront France chief Jean-François Jeanne said by investing in Toulouse the group, who also work with Top 14 rivals Toulon, wanted to build on the "strongest brand in world rugby".

"We expect an increase in revenues over the next 10 years with double-digit growth," Jeanne said. Money badly needed to stem the decline of Toulouse, who last won the Top 14 in 2012, and their record fourth European Cup in 2010.

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