After spending the whole 2015-2016 Ligue 2 season playing their home games in Beauvais, Red Star came very close to achieving promotion. The club’s project for the renovation of the legendary Stade Bauer was not progressing which made the fans act by creating a crowdfunding operation.
Words By: Florian Dacheux
Saint-Ouen is far from modern’s football big money. The city is home to one of the oldest clubs in the nation (1897), which has won five French Cups partly gleaned in the 1920s the flourishing era of amateur football. Here in the heart of the Red Suburbs, Red Star is considered as one of the last popular clubs. Sunday the clock points to one p.m. when the apéro starts. The barbecue warms supporters even as the rain fell on the city audonienne. Whilst the League 2 season has ended last weekend, they were almost 300 to attend the reserve team’s game.
Their objective? To proclaim loud and clear the renovation of Stade Bauer. “We want to play in our stadium. We have campaigned for the renovation over the past years, especially since the team got promoted to the Ligue 2. This project needs to move forward and all the stakeholders should work together to bring the club back to its stadium. There are some restrains in the project and nobody clearly says what their intentions are”, regrets Vincent Chutet-Mezence, spokesperson for Red Star Bauer Collective.
Tired of this situation, the group has decided to launch a crowdfunding operation on Fosburit’s website. “We want to collect money for the renovation because the real problem is (the lack) of money. One meeting has taken place on the !7th of March at Saint-Ouen’s city hall. This led us to organise a public meeting two weeks after the meeting to inform people and discuss moving forward. We already had the crowdfunding idea was already in our minds at that time. We will take advantage of the period between the end of the championship and the start of the EUROs to alert a maximum of people on the stadium situation.”
“Nearly 700 people have responded”
Currently nearly 700 people have responded, the group’s target is for 2999 contributors which corresponds to the maximum capacity of the stadium. “Each supporter can donate between 10 and 100 euros. We will only reveal the sum at the end of the fundraiser. So we could have a real influence on the renovation project we would need a six-figure sum. We prefer to emphasize on the number of people involved. Basically, it’s like a concrete petition but with a financial gesture.” Two studies have been made so far. The first in July 2015 had evaluated the renovation works to 5.5M€. The second study delivered in February 2016 put in jeopardy a potential consensus for the renovation due to an over cost linked to an incomplete diagnosis of the structures’ conditions. “If the project is still blocked in January, we will finance a supplementary study to define the exact amount of renovation, says Vincent Chutet-Mezence. We are not too far off. It’s essentially the new security standards such as video surveillance and the security space between the ground and the stands with enough distance for the firefighter path. But it’s sure that the stadium is old and a little dilapidated.”
A stadium that has not seen his stars’ shine. Exiled in Beauvais’ Pierre-Brison stadium which was always almost empty, the Vert et Blanc have missed promotion to Ligue 1 by little after finishing 5th (64 points). “For the oldest of us who have seen the Division 2 at Bauer, it’s very sad. We are at the correct level but this promotion (National to Ligue 2) was a waste. We can’t even watch our home games. The core of the Kop (Ultras) did not travel to Beauvais. Part of the fans did not want to go there but for others it was difficult to travel to Beauvais on a Friday night at 20h. Some also thought that there were only two options, we either all go together or we don’t go at all. On the other hand, we were present at all the away games which might seem quite illogical but we really considered it to be important. Whatever happened, the games were on Fridays so we would need to speak to our bosses. If we were going to travel, well we might as well go further than Beauvais.”
Neither at Stade de France or Parc des Princes
It’s 15h when the reserve team appears on the pitch. The hard core fans of the Étoile Rouge leave the bar to go back to their Kop in the stands. They don’t waste time to unsheathe flare over flare and start singing all together: “Red Star, It’s at Bauer, we are the Red Star Fans, we come from the Red Suburbs and the city still inflames for the red star.” A passion that is always present for the fans who consider the Red Star and their stadium as inextricably linked. “One does not go without the other. The results prove that. We are 12th considering only the Beauvais matches but we still finished 5th few points away from the podium. That proves that we need Bauer back.” The crowdfunding campaign will be online until the 13th of June. The fans hope that by then they will know more about the stadium’s situation whilst the club has announced it wishes to return to Bauer.
A board of directors that is also working on a potential move to a new Île-de-France location since the town of Beauvais announced they will favour their local clubs such as AS Beauvais-Oise (CFA 2) and Beauvais Rugby Club (Federale 2). “We will see when things fall to place but we are really wondering where will we will play next season. There are a lot of stadiums in the region but few possibilities. You can forget Stade de France, it’s too expensive. You can also forget about Parc des Princes obviously. It seems impossible to share a stadium with clubs such as Créteil and Paris FC. Jean Bouin was built for Rugby. There is the potential solution of Stade de Sannois but there you also need to renovate to meet the Ligue 2 standards.”
In short, next season will be hectic. The context is not favourable and it will be difficult for Red Star to maintain its key players. For example, the talented playmaker Naim Sliti who has been announced in England. A country where Bauer would already have been renovated.
To support their crowdfunding campaign click here.