The ax didn’t go far. Close to relegation at amateur level at the end of July – in other words bankruptcy for a company employing nearly 300 people – the Football Club des Girondins de Bordeaux (FCGB) is trying to start afresh on new bases in Ligue 2. Downgraded on 14 June in National by the National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG), the financial policeman of French football, the club owes its survival only to the executive committee of the French Football Federation, which canceled this decision on July 27.
Despite the heat wave, 20,700 spectators, including many holidaymakers, came to the Matmut Atlantique stadium on Saturday August 13 to watch a hard-fought victory over Niort (1-0). A beautiful audience for a Ligue 2 match, in a family atmosphere, thanks to a single price of 9 euros. “Even in difficult times, the club can count on a hard core of 10,000 to 15,000 faithful”says Vincent Mourgues, doctoral student in sports history at Bordeaux-Montaigne University.
Since the resumption of the championship, Bordeaux has done well in Ligue 2: the team is at the top of the standings, tied with Guingamp and Caen, after two wins and a draw in three games. For television, the Girondins are a good deal: the Bordeaux-Valenciennes match (0-0) attracted 667,000 spectators on the L’Equipe channel on July 30, a record for Ligue 2.
Despite these encouraging signals, popular support is tenuous. The Matmut, with a capacity of 42,000 seats, sounds hollow. In town, it is rare to come across a navy blue jersey on the scapular. Rue Sainte-Catherine, the club shop is often empty. Despite the launch in 2021 of a range of “historic” jerseys for the 140th anniversary of the Girondins, sales of derivative products have fallen from 12 million euros in 2009 to 4 million euros.
“Returning the Château du Haillan would be useless”
According to the headlines of the regional newspapers, the inhabitants of Bordeaux seem more concerned about the drought and the fires than about the fate of their football team, and it is with apparent indifference that “the sleeping beauty” saw the beginning of Navy and White season in Ligue 2.
“In Bordeaux, appearances can be deceivingcorrects Patrick Gomez, 41, who has supported the Girondins since childhood. Here, everyone is concerned about the difficulties of the club, even those who are not interested in football, but return the castle of Haillan [le lieu d’entraînement du FCGB] would be useless. It’s not in our culture. »
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