Luzenac football club, the minnows from the Pyrenean town of 650 people, have achieved their dream after Toulouse’s administrative court ruled that the club is legally entitled to be promoted and to play in Ligue 2.
The court annulled the ruling by the Direction Nationale de Contrôle et de Gestion – the body that regulates the financial affairs of clubs.
Five years previously the Ariegeois team were an amateur outfit in the regional leagues. When they were promoted to Ligue 3 in the Championnat de France National in 2009 nobody gave them a hope. For the first two seasons after promotion they just about avoided relegation and they had financial problems.
But that changed when businessman Jérôme Ducros stepped in and he set about turning the club around. He increased the budget to £2m and brought in former France and Manchester United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez as managing director. The Frenchman bought wisely and under manager Christophe Pélissier the club flourished, finishing the season second as top scorers.
“We had planned to gain promotion in three years so we are well ahead of schedule,” said Ducros after the club’s most successful season.
Once promotion was secured the club began to look to the future. They had to find a new stadium. Their own ground, Stade Paul Fédou, with one sole stand had a 400-seat capacity.
Arrangements were made to play their home games at Toulouse, 80 miles north.
The club said the financial side of the business was balanced and sound.
“We are not even one euro in debt,“ said Barthez.
But things turned sour when the DNCG dashed their dreams: the body had blocked the promotion of Nice in 2002 and Lens this summer. Both those decisions were successfully appealed.
With today’s successful ruling Luzenac can look to the future and it seems the sky’s the limit.
The headache for Ligue 2 is how to organise a season with 21 teams. Last season’s bottom club were not relegated. And officials have two days to figure things out before the new campaign kicks off.