Winner of Sedan this Friday (2-0) on the final day of National, Annecy returns to Ligue 2, 29 years after his last appearance. A look at the patient reconstruction of the club, crowned by this fifth ascent in the last nine years.
In its sold-out Sports Park (13,500 spectators), Annecy snatched access to Ligue 2 on Friday night, thanks to a 2-0 win against Sedan as part of the 34th and final day of the National 1 championship.
On this evening in August 2016, the 30th to be precise, on the terrace of a famous restaurant in the region, with a breathtaking view of the lake, the stomachs of the guests are not only cheered by the dishes prepared by Chef Yoann Conte. The “PowerPoints”, full of ambitions and sharing a common passion, presented as an aperitif to an audience of entrepreneurs, are (mainly) the cause. Because that evening, the management of the club, around Stéphane Loison, the president of the association, Sébastien Faraglia, the future SAS coach of FC Annecy and their sporting director, Jean Philippe Nallet, showed their ambitions.
Or rather “revisit them”. Since 2010 some fans (and / or nostalgic) of football in the lakes and mountains of Savoy have been working to unite living forces, human and economic, at the time reluctant to revive their enthusiasm and checkbook. It must be said that the last football adventure in Annecy had just ended in liquidation. However, these “pioneers” believe in it so strongly that they wrote the project: “Cap 2015”, with the aim of now being in a national championship. They start from afar, the “Fécé” as it is called, thrives in the last divisions of the Auvergne Rhône Alpes League.
In the shadow of Evian Thonon Gaillard
They needed persuasion at that time because the “fashion” for football fans in the two Savoys took on the contours of a shirt in the colors of a famous mineral drink (Évian), namely pink: Évian Thonon Gaillard, accelerating from the national team to the Ligue 2 (2010) then from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1 (2011) by recruiting old Ligue 1 grognards (Cédric Barbosa, Olivier Sorlin or Claudio Caçapa, the former OL captain) monopolizes all the attention, politics (Franck Riboud, the boss of Danone is a captain of industry listened to in Haute-Savoie), economic and in general.
Everyone wants to be seen in the footsteps of this “OFNI”, (unidentified football object), born 85 kilometers away, from the will and address book of its main shareholder, Danone between different entities around Gaillard and Thonon, in a optics of neighboring Switzerland. This club makes the heart of the region beat faster, culminating in a Coupe de France final in 2013 and in “comfortable” postures during its first three years in Ligue 1, which the club of a “clan”, the Dupraz (Jo, the father and founder, Pascal, son, sports director and coach and Julian, grandson and communications director) leads. In “STF” mode, without a fixed stage, the ETG shines and settles in Annecy for its official meetings.
The inverted pyramid
Very quickly, OFNI burns its wings and turns into a comet: overwhelmed by the quarrels between shareholders, the club is gradually dying and falling as quickly as it got up. The tide had already turned slightly in May 2015: when the ETG fell from a foreground, on an anonymous site on the outskirts of Annecy, in Cran Gevrier, the FCA moved up to National 3. The dynamic reversed for good, twelve months later: the ETG stumbles downstairs again when Annecy takes the elevator again. In two seasons, from five divisions, the gap is reduced to two …
Everything will go even faster between spring and autumn 2016: the ETG leaves Ligue 2 in May with almost no noteworthy future. The entity will be wiped off the sports map in July, then off the economic map in December with all employees scattered like a puzzle within weeks.
And when in this month of August 2016, Aimé Jacquet plays the guest of honor of this presentation, it is not for a masterclass on his career, he who retires a few meters away. The first French coach, world champion, comes to testify his attachment to this slow reconstruction that follows closely: in four years the FCA has just moved from Regional 2 to National 2, or three climbs in four seasons.
Stéphane Loison, Sébastian Faraglia and Jean Philippe Nallet, therefore, exhibited the second stage of the rocket that evening: “Twenties”, for the 2020 horizon with the national team as a goal. Symbol of a form of “transfer” of power between ETG and FCA, Olivier Sorlin, former captain of Evian Segni … in Annecy. And one of the former ETG’s main financial partners, company Bontaz is changing recipient of its sponsorship checks: now writes FC Annecy. The circle is complete: the ETG is dead, long live the Fécé! Since we are close to Switzerland, the latter is on time: at the start of the “Twenties”, after four seasons on the podium of the National 2, the Alto Savoiardo club kicks off in … 2020 for the National team!
A difficult return to the highest levels
The first season in the French 3rd division turns into a disaster, with the last place in the dead of winter and the humiliation of an elimination against the (little) neighbor Rumilly, who steals the show with his epic in Coupe de France (elimination in ½ against Monaco). A healthy internal change of manager will save relegation in the spring of 2021. Then, in the low season, in addition to the structuring of the club in SAS with a role of team manager, it was donated to one of the pioneers, Stéphane Loison, Laurent Guyot, used to this division, took control of the team and at the cost of a quick arrival between mid-March and mid-April (22 points taken out of 24 possible), the FCA clung to the places that gave direct access to Ligue 2 It happened this Friday, with this 5th climb in the last 9 years, 29 years after his last appearance at this level in French football (1993).
If the hardest part begins, because football in Haute-Savoie has ended up every time at the commercial court bar in the “liquidation” box (Thonon in 1987, Annecy in 1993 and ETG in 2016), the executives want to enjoy their evening of success on Friday 13 May 2022 in front of 13,500 spectators at the Parc des Sports. They have almost dusted off the home record (14,584 spectators), which dates back to 30 March 1993 for the 16th final of the Coupe de France against David Ginola’s PSG. 1993, his final year in Ligue 2.
As for the rest, Stéphane, Sébastien and Jean Philippe have not, for the moment, included in their short-term agenda a “powerpoint-presentation-partner” evening on the terrace of their favorite table. Especially since you may need to invite more people. But this spring will be no less delicious. And historical.