The Girondins in Ligue 2, a monument that is collapsing

The Girondins in Ligue 2, a monument that is collapsing

With the Girondins de Bordeaux – perhaps accompanied by Saint-Etienne this Saturday – it is a monument of French football that is collapsing, after exactly 60 years of almost (1) uninterrupted presence…

With the Girondins de Bordeaux – perhaps accompanied by Saint-Etienne this Saturday – it is a monument of French football that is collapsing, after exactly 60 years of almost (1) uninterrupted presence among the elite. The second club, behind Olympique de Marseille, in the number of seasons at the highest French level (69), the fourth in European matches (after Lyon, Paris and Marseille). One of the most successful, too, with six French championships, four French cups, a final (1996) and two European semi-finals (1985, 1987).

And what great players! The Giresse – the club’s emblem – Tigana, Trésor, Lacombe, Battiston and others who made up the backbone of the French team, European champions in 1984; the Zidane, Lizarazu and Dugarry world champions 1998,…, and so on.

Lopez’s Mistakes

The only First Division football club in the south-west quarter – unlike rugby, which concentrates strongholds there -, the Girondins have long attracted a large audience, Bordeaux and regional. The Parc Lescure, which became the Chaban-Delmas stadium in 2001 before the failed move to the Matmut Atlantique in May 2015, was the theater with art deco architecture.

“I never imagined that we could go so low”: as the former international defender Bixente Lizarazu expressed in our columns, the observation of the forfeiture is brutal. It is first of all the result of a disastrous last sporting season from start to finish, the worst in the history of the club. This 2021-2022 vintage had a strong taste of piquettes (heavy defeats in Reims, Rennes or Lyon), and Swiss cheese (88 goals conceded in 37 games).

Arrived at the controls of the club last July when the Girondins threatened to go bankrupt, the businessman Gérard Lopez was unable to raise the bar, on the contrary. He made a mistake in the choice of coach, former Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic replaced by David Guion in February. Its sporting director Admar Lopes too, in the construction of a team with a wobbly balance that the January transfer window failed to restore.

This 2021-2022 vintage had a strong taste of piquettes, and Gruyère

Missed turns

A heterogeneous assembly of individuals, for the most part little concerned with the fate of the club, the players have never assumed their status. They saw with dismay their captain, international defender Laurent Koscielny, being degraded during the season for a so-called lack of leadership, before being accused of racism, with goalkeeper Benoît Costil, by the group of supporters Ultramarines without anything credible to prove it.

Off the pitch, the new management team, which announced that it wanted to tighten all the screws on its arrival, will only have finally succeeded in dampening the atmosphere of a club where the employees – prohibited by email from talking to the players… – note, disillusioned and powerless, the long slide in Ligue 2 of which they will be the main victims.

All is obviously not the fault of the team in place. Before heading into the wall, the Girondins de Bordeaux missed several turns. The first at the end of 2009. In the wake of a sixth French championship title, the team led by Laurent Blanc dominated France (first at the end of the first legs with an eight-point lead over the second) and Europe (best team in the group stage of the Champions League) before collapsing the following spring, exhausted by the sequence of matches and disturbed by the rumors, finally verified, of the departure of their coach for the French team.

Diluted identity

Suddenly deprived of the financial windfall of the Champions League, Bordeaux is struggling to reduce its financial lifestyle because of long-term and lucrative contracts signed at the time of the sporting upturn.

A Coupe de France won in 2013 and the latest European campaigns to date still give the Girondins the illusion of being able to maintain their standing. The sale by M6, the owner since 1999 tired of having to fill recurring deficits, is the other badly negotiated turn. The arrival of GACP, represented by the sprightly but ultimately incompetent Joe DaGrosa, supported by two equally American financial funds, King Street and Fortress, marks a brutal change of era. The payroll is still swelling with players at the end of the course or not at the level to hope to profit from resale.

GACP was quickly released from executive management and shareholding by King Street, which installed Frédéric Longuépée as president. The former high-level gymnast was brutally rejected by the Ultras before the sale to Gérard Lopez, haloed by his relative success in Lille and presented as the savior of the club.

A change of owner, three presidents and six successive coaches, an incessant ballet of players and a completely diluted identity: the four post-M6 years are characterized by chronic instability and a lack of professionalism not conducive to the serenity and performance that will have finally got the better of the place of the Girondins de Bordeaux in Ligue 1.

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