Summary of our market study

The French handball club market, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a significant drop in licensees by 2021 and affected match-related revenues, shows promising growth prospects. Notably, foreign players constitute a significant presence, with 48% hailing from abroad. Although the impact of the pandemic led to an attendance decline and reduced profits, with the Starligue making a loss of 579.6 thousand euros in the 2020-2021 season, the market retains high potential.

Interest in the sport remains robust, as evidenced by the adaptation initiatives like Handfit, which broadens the sport's appeal. Moreover, the women's handball segment is experiencing rapid development and increasing visibility in the media. 

In summary, the French handball club market is navigating post-pandemic recovery and demonstrates both resilience and avenues for further expansion.

The French Handball Market: Tackling the Court with Growth and International Flair

The handball market in France is at an intriguing juncture with potential for growth and increasing international influence. As an established sport with a rich history, handball enjoys a significant following in France, particularly with the championship Starligue leading the way as an exemplar within European circuits. French handball clubs have been experiencing a robust upward trajectory, distinguished by the Starligue's transition to include 16 professional clubs, significant Qatari investment and the burgeoning professionalization of women's handball.

Despite the setbacks due to the health crisis, which saw the number of licensees dip by around 26%, handball's popularity has seen a resurgence, catalyzed by marketing efforts such as Panini's sticker album and an overall 10-year growth trend. This rebound is epitomized by the projected average club budget for the 2022-2023 Starligue season, which hovers around €5.36 million—a new high for the sport's professional echelon in France. European competitions such as the EHF Champions League have boosted the continental profile of the sport, amassing an audience of roughly 550 million for the 2020-2021 season.

Despite financial struggles faced by some clubs, major leagues in Germany, Spain, and France are reaping competitive benefits, solidifying their standings in the global arena. This is further underlined by the substantial budgets of powerhouses like PSG Handball, which reached €13.7 million in a recent season. In terms of player transfers, the market is heating up, as shown by landmark transfers such as Nikola Karabatic’s move to PSG. Salaries for professional players have seen a healthy climb, with the average gross monthly remuneration approximately doubling since 2004, reaching around €6,765 in the 2020-2021 season.

Television broadcasting rights, though modest compared to sports like soccer, remain a vital income source, with the Starligue securing an agreement worth between €3 and €5 million annually. Partnerships and sponsorships prove indispensable to the clubs' bottom line, accounting for 37% of Starligue's total operating income, translating into roughly €26.6 million. Merchandise like jerseys and accessories also chip in, along with developing markets such as handball video games and sports betting—the latter swelling by 137% in bets for the last quarter of one year compared to the same period the previous year.

Key Players Shaping the French Handball Market Landscape

As we delve into the vibrant ecosystem of French handball, we encounter a diverse set of key players that shape the market's dynamics. Their contributions range from team performance and exposure to product distribution and media rights, influencing the market's growth trajectory.

  • Paris Saint-Germain Handball (PSG Handball):  stands as a cornerstone within the Starligue, bolstered by substantial Qatari investment. They represent the commercial pinnacle of French handball, leveraging both strong financial resources and a high-profile brand to attract top talents and achieve success on the court.


  • Montpellier Handball, another luminary in the league, boasts a storied history of competitive excellence. This club has contributed significantly to popularizing and sustaining interest in the sport within France, maintaining a consistent level of performance that has kept them at the upper echelons of the league.


  • HBC Nantes emerges as a formidable contender, showcasing a tenacious spirit and a knack for captivating audiences through thrilling handball displays. Their rise in the ranks has been a testament to strategic club management and player development practices.


  • When it comes to equipment distribution, Decathlon embodies accessibility and convenience. A giant in sports retail, Decathlon has been essential in providing a wide array of handball gear, from beginner kits to professional equipment, making the sport accessible to a broad consumer base.


  • The sports apparel titans Nike, Adidas, and Puma bring to the table their specialized handball gear and premium sponsorship deals, fueling both the performance and the aesthetic appeal of the sport. Each brand's investment in handball reflects an alignment with the sport's values of dynamism and teamwork, ensuring players are equipped with the latest in sports technology and design.


  • BeIN Sport has taken on the pivotal role of broadcasting, serving as a crucial bridge between the handball action and its burgeoning fan base. They have acquired TV rights for the Starligue, ensuring consistent exposure for the league, enhancing its popularity, and allowing the sport to resonate with viewers at home.

Together, these entities make up a robust network that defines the market structure of French handball. Their combined efforts have fostered a supportive environment for the sport's growth, underpinning its emerging status as a mainstream attraction in the world of French athletics.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

Handball is a team sport played by hand between two teams of seven players. The sport originated in Germany in the 1920s.

Although handball is known as an Olympic disciple in which national teams compete, and seems less famous than soccer or basketball, the French championship is now one of the most famous in the world. As a result, attendance figures, players' salaries and economic spin-offs are on the rise. The sport is also becoming increasingly international, with 48% of players in France's top division coming from abroad.

This study focuses on the handball club market in France. French professional clubs are divided into two leagues: the Starligue (Division 1) and the Proligue (Division 2). The handball club market is undergoing radical change, with the number of Starligue clubs increasing from 14 to 16, Qatari investments, and the strong growth and professionalization of women's handball. The economic situation of the various clubs varies greatly, particularly in terms of budget.

Even if handball has suffered the consequences of the health crisis, with a significant drop in the number of licensees (down 26% to 341,000 by 2021), this reduction needs to be qualified, as handball has been heavily impacted by the health restrictions imposed by the French government.handball has been greatly impacted by health restrictions (indoor sport) and has experienced very strong growth over the last ten years, as illustrated by Panini's decision to market an album of stickers dedicated to this discipline. The average projected budget per club for Starligue clubs is estimated at 5.36 million euros for the 2022-2023 season, the highest level since the creation of professional leagues.

Handball clubs in France therefore represent a high-potential market, and face a number of challenges.

1.2 A growing European market

The European handball club market is booming, thanks in particular to the European competitions that bring together Europe's top clubs: the EHF Champions League and the EHF European League .

The EHF has estimated audiences of *** million for the entire ****-**** season. [***]

The EHF Champions League was created in ****, with FC Barcelona ...

1.3 Handball clubs in France: a market with potential

The market for French handball clubs is booming and entering a new dimension. The average budget of French clubs has risen sharply in recent years with the arrival of Qatari investors:

Club budget trends Starligue, ****-****, in €K lnh

The Starligue is made up of ** professional clubs with varying budgets. First-team ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 The player transfer market organized by clubs

In recent years, the transfer market for handball players has intensified and internationalized, as witnessed by Nikola Karabatic's most expensive transfer in history to PSG since FC Barcelona for around *.* million euros in ****[***]. These figures may seem small compared with the market for soccer players, but they represent a revolution in ...

2.2 Starligue television rights

TV rights for the Starligue are worth * million euros a year. They have been granted to BeIN Sport until ****. [***]

To give you an idea, television rights for basketball amount to ** million euros in France and * billion for soccer in ****.[***]. The value of TV rights is therefore relatively modest for handball.

For ...

2.3 Partnerships and sponsors

Partnerships play a very important role in handball clubs' revenues, despite a **% drop in partnership revenues for the ****-**** season, due to the health crisis. Partnerships account for **% of total operating income for Starligue clubs, corresponding to **.* million euros[***].

Partnership revenues as a percentage of total revenues Starligue, ****-**** lnh Report ...

2.4 Club sales of merchandising products

To diversify their business and generate additional revenue, handball clubs are developing derivative products, notably via their official online stores: jerseys, clothing, accessories, toys...

Clubs are innovating a great deal in this area, offering fans and supporters new ways of making purchases thanks to cashless and Click and Collect. For example, ...

2.5 Ticket sales for matches

Ticketing and stadium seat sales are also central to the business of handball clubs in France, even if match-related revenues have fallen by **% in the ****-**** season compared with the ****-**** season. They are estimated at €*M in ****-****. Nevertheless, the proportion of revenues linked directly to matches is fairly low, ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Supporters, fans and licensees

Professional handball is a sport that is attracting more and more fans, many of whom are members of the French Handball Federation, one of the Top ** federations with the most members.

Members of the various federations France, **** injep

Growth in the number of licensees :

Number of licensees France, ****-**** in ...

3.2 The federation and subsidies from various bodies

In both the Starligue and Proligue, subsidies from the regions and from bodies such as the FFH play a major role in club budgets.

Operating subsidies for all Starligue clubs, in euros :

Source: ****

Subsidies were up on the previous year.

Here are the subsidies as a percentage of total revenues:\ ...

3.3 Which owners and which stadiums?

The organization and structure of a handball club is very different from one club to another, and has evolved considerably with the arrival of foreign investors in the French handball club market, such as Qatar at PSG. Firstly, the legal structure is different within the Starligue:

Legal status Starligue, ****-**** ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 The main clubs

Summary table of Starligue and Proligue club rankings:

The Starligue is made up of ** clubs with varying budgets, ranging from just over * million to over ** million euros a year, depending on the year. Starligue rankings are highly dependent on club budgets (***), with PSG topping the Starligue rankings and the biggest ...

4.2 Charities and initiatives

To pass on the values of the sport, French handball clubs organize charity events.

Disability initiatives:

Handball clubs and the French Handball Federation are highly committed to disability initiatives.

Handfit, for example, is an innovative handball practice that adapts to all players and is part of this dynamic of inclusion[***]. Handfit ...

4.3 The development and success of women's handball

French women's handball is developing at a rapid pace.

Numerous surveys clearly indicate an overall interest in women's sport in general, and a desire to see more of it in the media. According to a study carried out by the agency Two Circles, interest in women's sport was at an all-time ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Official handball rules and regulations

Link to the official rules: Game rules

The sports code:

The reference text in this field is the Code du sport, published between **** (***), regulating * aspects of sporting life:

Organization of physical and sporting activities Sports players Methods of practising sport, safety and hygiene of sports facilities Financing of sport and provisions ...

6 Positioning the players

6.1 Player segmentation

  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Puma Groupe
  • bein Sports France
  • Decathlon Groupe
  • Paris Saint Germain PSG
  • Montpellier Handball
  • Nantes HBC

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Club budget trends
  • Top ten club budgets
  • Change in net income
  • Club first-team payroll costs (total)
  • TV and marketing rights breakdown - Fixed portion
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Latest news

Decathlon: all the 2023 performance figures - 05/04/2024
  • - Worldwide sales 2023: 15.6 billion euros, up +4.4% on 2022
  • - Decathlon presence: 78 countries.
  • - Number of products sold worldwide last year: 1.19 billion.
  • - Share of digital sales: 17.4%
  • - Sales in France: 4.752 billion euros, up +1.24% on 2022.
  • - Total number of stores worldwide: 1,749, including 319 in France.
  • - Total number of employees: 101,000, including 24,000 in France.
Decathlon revolutionizes itself to become a global brand - 13/03/2024
  • - Company sales: 15.4 billion euros
  • - Number of stores: Over 1700
  • - Presence in 69 countries
  • - Number of brands developed by employees : Over 70
  • - Number of disciplines covered by brands: Around one hundred
  • - Focus on product-related services: rental, second-hand, subscription, recycling, etc.
PSG abandons bid to buy the Stade de France - 04/01/2024
  • PSG is valued at 4 billion euros.
  • The current concession for the Stade de France expires in 2025.
  • Four bids are currently in the running to take over the concession or buy the Stade de France.
  • Among the candidates are the Vinci-Bouygues duo, GL Events and Paris Entertainment Company, and the "Le Stade de France notre bien commun" consortium comprising ASM Global, NGE and Dubrac TP.
Decathlon sells store premises for 600 million euros - 12/12/2023
  • The network has 1,751 stores worldwide.
  • Décathlon has just sold the walls of 90 of its stores for 600 million euros.
  • The decision was taken to remove many of the company's brands from the shelves. Of the current 49 stores, only around 15 are expected to remain by next year.
  • The recent acquisition of, a German online retailer of mountain sports equipment.

US fund Arctos Partners takes a minority stake in PSG - 11/12/2023
  • Soccer club Paris Saint-Germain is no longer 100% owned by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).
  • Arctos Partners is to take a minority stake in PSG, which could rise to 12.5%
  • The total value of the club is 4.25 billion euros.
  • Arctos Partners was founded in 2019, with headquarters in Dallas (Texas) and offices in New York.
  • Arctos Partners owns stakes in more than 20 professional sports organizations worldwide.
Adidas still going strong despite the Kanye West scandal. - 20/11/2023
  • Adidas had a colossal stock of Yeezy sneakers, estimated at over a billion euros.
  • Yeezy sneaker sales accounted for 7% of Adidas sales.
  • Adidas organized two massive destocking operations, generating 400 million euros in the first online sale and almost the same amount in the second.
  • Resale prices for Yeezy sneakers vary between 100 and 300 euros.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Puma Groupe
bein Sports France
Decathlon Groupe
Paris Saint Germain PSG
Montpellier Handball
Nantes HBC

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