August 9, 2012

France: the 3 promoted clubs from Ligue 2 to Ligue 1, for the 2012-13 season – SC Bastia, Stade de Reims, Troyes (aka ESTAC).

Filed under: France — admin @ 9:28 pm
    The 3 promoted clubs in the 2012-13 Ligue Un – SC Bastia, Stade de Reims, Troyes (aka ESTAC)…

France: the 3 promoted clubs in Ligue 1

Note: to see my latest map-&-post of Ligue Un, click on the following: category: France.

Troyes (aka ESTAC) returns to the French first division after a 6-year adsence. SC Bastia returns to the French first division after a 7-year absence. Stade de Reims returns to the French first division after a 33-year absence.

There are some similarities which 2 of the 3 share, but are at the end of the day these are three very different football clubs. Here is one similarity…2 of the clubs are from the same Region – Reims and Troyes are 63 km. (or 39 miles) apart and are both from Champagne-Ardenne (which is in northeast France just east of Paris). The other similarity between 2 of them is that both Reims and Bastia have played the same number of seasons in the French first division – 30 seasons [counting 2012-13]. But Bastia has spread that 30 years of top-flight-presence throughout the last 45 years ( with 2 spells – their first of 18 seasons, and their second spell of 11 seasons), while Reims has not been in the top flight since 1978-79 (33 years). Both Bastia and Reims have won major titles, but Bastia have just the 1981 Coup de France title to their name. On the other hand, Reims’ silverware cabinet is quite full (though rather dusty)…Reims have won 6 French titles (last in 1962) and 2 Coupe de France titles (last in 1958). Troyes have no major titles.

The city of Bastia has a population of around just 43,000 {2008 figures}, Bastia is the second-largest city on the Island of Corsica, but in spite of that, SC Bastia are Corsica’s largest club. The largest city on Corsica is Ajaccio, which has a population of around 65,000, and is home to SC Bastia’s biggest rival, AC Ajaccio. Ajaccio are also currently in Ligue 1 (they were promoted back in May 2011, and just survived their first season back in Ligue 1 by finishing in 16th place in 2011-12, 3 points clear of the drop). So the Corsica derby will be played twice this season as a top-flight-match for the first time since 2004-05. From, ‘Derby Corse [Corsica derby]‘. 2012-13 will be only the 8th season that both Ajaccio and Bastia are in the first division at the same time.

2012-13 Ligue 1, Corsica derby matches:
Wed. 10 October 2012, Ajaccio v. Bastia.
Fri. 03 January 2013, Bastia v. Ajaccio.

Corsica has a population of around 302,000, and is about the size of Puerto Rico (or between the sizes of the states of Connecticut and Delaware) with an area of 8,680 km. squared (or 3,350 square miles). Bastia is on the northeast side of the island, at the base of the Cape of Corse. Ajaccio is further south, on the west side of the island.
Image and photo credits above –
Eric Gaba at, segment of the base map of France (blank topographic map of France with regional boundaries),

Note: this page on is well done, and is a nice history lesson, and is recommended. It is where I got the larger block of text in the illustration above.

SC Bastia were formed in 1905, by a Swiss teacher named Hans Reusch (who taught German in a high school in Bastia). Bastia remained in the lower reaches of the French football pyramid for decades, and did not turn professional until 1965, upon winning promotion to the second division. From there, it only took 3 more seasons to finally reach the French Division 1, as Bastia won the 1967-68 French Division 2 by 6 points ahead of the also-promoted Nîmes Olympique, and 7 points ahead of third-place finisher Stade de Reims. In 1968-69, Bastia promptly made themselves at home in the top flight, finishing in 7th place. The following season, 1969-70, Bastia really caught a break, though. That’s because they finished second-from-last (in 17th place), but they were not relegated because the then-18-team French Division 1 was expanding to 20 teams, and only one club that season was relegated (FC Rouen). Bastia again finished in 17th place the next season (1970-71). Bastia then got some new talent on the squad, such as FW François Félix (who had 14 league goals that season, and 17 the following season), and not only did Bastia do well in the league, finishing in 9th place, but they went all the way to the Coupe de France final, were they just fell short of glory, losing 2-1 to Olympique de Marseille, before 44,000 at Parc des Princes in Paris.

For the rest of the 1970s, Bastia established themselves in the first division, finshing in the top half of the table more often than not, with high points of 3rd place in 1976-77 (with 21 goals by François Félix) and 5th place in 1978-79 (powered by Dutch striker Johnny Repp’s 18 goals – Repp was a Netherland international with 2 FIFA World Cup final apperances). That era’s Bastia squad was built around Corsica-born MF Claude Papi (Bastia, 1968-81, with 421 app./121 goals), who played his whole career for Bastia, but sadly died at only the age of 33 of an aneurysm (in 1983). It was with Papi as field general that Bastia had probably their greatest moment, when they made it all the way to the finals of the 1978-79 UEFA Cup. En route to the finals, Bastia took some pretty big scalps – Sporting Club [Lisbon], Newcastle United, and Torino FC. It was in Turin, in the 16-team 3rd Round of the 77/78 UEFA Cup, that the relatively small club that is SC Bastia achieved their zenith, as Bastia beat Torino 2-3 to win the aggregate by a score of 5-3. At that point in time, Torino were not the yo-yo club they are today – Torino were Italian champions 2 seasons previously (1975-76), and were undefeated at home for a two-season spell. The first leg in Bastia featured Claude Papi scoring on a mazy run with a give-and-go. The second leg in Turin featured a sublime, low, 20-yard volley from Algerian-born Bastia FW Jean-François Larios, plus two nice finishes from Moroccan-born Bastia FW Abdelkrim Merry (aka ‘Krimau’) (the last goal coming off an assist from Papi from the Bastia penalty circle, where Papi slotted to Krimau at the center circle).
Here are videos which feature all those goals…
Claude Papi [UEFA Cup-1977/1978 SC Bastia 2-1 Torino FC, 23 Nov. 1977]‘ (1:07 video uploaded by obpjg at
UEFA Cup-1977/1978 Torino FC – SC Bastia 2-3 [2 Dec. 1977]‘ (3:52 video uploaded by eurocups dofootball at

Facing Dutch side PSV [Eindhoven] in the finals, the high-scoring Bastia squad might have won the 1978 UEFA Cup had it not been for a torrential pre-game downpour on Stade Armand Cesari, which made their field almost unplayable (the match should have been postponed), and nullified Bastia’s slick passing game – and the first leg finished scoreless. In the second leg in Eindhoven, PSV dismantled Bastia 3-0.
Photo credits above –

But 3 years later, Bastia were able to finally claim a major title, when they won the 1981 Coup de France title by beating AS Saint-Étienne 2-1. Bastia’s goals were scored by Louis Marcialis and Cameroonian legend Roger Milla (Bastia, 1983-85, with 113 app./35 goals). Clade Papi was unable to play due to injury, and retired shortly after. One side-note, in the Saint-Étienne squad that day was none other than current UEFA president Michel Platini (also playing for ASSÉ was former Bastia FW Johnny Repp).

Bastia’s great run, coming as it did from a town of only 40,000 or so, was bound to run short at some time, and after an 18-season spell in the first division, Bastia were relegated in 1985-86, when they finished in last place with only 5 wins and 20 points. The club remained in the second division for 8 seasons, and this time period was marked by one of the biggest tragedies in french football history. On 5 May 1992, the ‘Armand Cesari Stadium disaster‘ occurred when a hastily-built temporary stand at Bastia’s stadium collapsed, killing 18 and injuring over 2,300. The stand had been built to host the huge crowd expected for the semifinal match between Bastia and Olympique de Marseille.

Bastia won promotion back to the first division in 1994, managed by former Bastia midfielder and current [2012] Rennes manager Frédéric Antonetti, who is northern Corsica-born. The high points of this previous 11-season spell in the top flight (1994-95 to 2004-05) was a 7th place finish in 1996-97 which qualified them for the 97/98 UEFA Cup. Bastia also finished in 9th place in 1997-98. Antonetti left after the 2000-01 season to manage Saint-Étienne, and Bastia have never been in the top half of the table since. During the early 2000s, Bastia achieved their highest average attendances, in the 7,000-range in 2001-02 and 2003-04 [throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Bastia's highest average gates were in the 5,000-range]. Basta were relegated in May, 2004-05 finishing in 19th place.

Bastia played 6 seasons in Ligue 2 from 2005-06 to 2009-10, finishing in the top half of the table the first 5 years (but never truly threatening for promotion). Then the bottom fell out in 2010-11, and Bastia were relegated to the third division, a level the club had not played in in 46 years (not since 1965). In fact, Bastia were initially also administratively relegated a further level (to the 4th division) for financial reasons (a 1.2 million Euro debt), but were reprieved of that in the off-season. Bastia, with the squad full of many young players, then won the [third division] 2010-11 Championnat National by 13 points ahead of Amiens, going undefeated at home. Back in Ligue 2 for 2011-12, under manager Frederic Haentz, Bastia were again undefeated at home, and a promotion-clinching 3-0 win over Metz with 3 games to spare saw a pitch invasion at the Stade Armand Cesari. SC Bastia averaged 9,906 per game last season, which, despite being in the second division, was Bastia’s highest average attendance ever. That was the result of the buzz created by Bastia’s back-to-back promotion campaigns, as well as the buzz created by Bastia finally getting stadium improvements (which you can see on the map page). So expectations are high in the north half of Corsica, and the whole island is anticipating the return of the Corsica derby within a top-flight context.

Here is the French wikipedia page of Bastia manager Frédéric Hantz.

Reims is located 129 km./ 80 miles east-northeast of Paris. Reims has a population of around 188,000, and is approximately the 12th-largest city in France {see this,}. Reims is effectively the capital of Champagne {see this ‘Champagne (historical province)‘ (}. Speaking the obvious, the Champagne region is known for it’s fine wines and champagnes, and Reims is one of the the centers of champagne production.

Stade de Reims was founded in 1911, as Société Sportive du Parc Pommery, being the football branch of the sports club of the House of Pommery & Greno, a large winery in Reims. Its players (all with amateur status) were not only recruited from the staff of the vineyard and winery, but also from the other trades associated with the wine-making industry such as coopers and carters. The team wore kits that resembled the colors of a champagne bottle, with yellow-orange (ie, gold) jerseys and dark green pants. The club changed it’s name to Stade de Reims in 1931. Professional status was instituted in France in 1932, but Reims resisted shedding their amateur status for 3 years before succumbing to the inevitable and turning pro in 1935. The 1931 name-change brought about a change in kit colors, to orange jerseys (with a black chevron across the chest) and black pants, but the champagne-bottle-theme was retained in their new crest, a football with a champagne bottle on top, depicted in stain-glass form, in the colors of green, pale gold, red, and white. Stade de Reims crest from 1931 is a work of art in my opinion (see it below, and also see it in the photo of Reims’ 1950 jersey [which I found on the German Wikipedia page on Stade de Reims]).
Photo credits above – Wahrerwattwurm at

In 1938, Stade de Reims merged with a local club, Club du Reims. The Stade de Reims name was maintained, but the club adopted the colors of Club du Reims, which were basically Arsenal’s colors – red and white, with a red jersey that has all-white sleeves. This has been Reims’ style of uniform ever since (although they have won black pants, like in the 1956 European Cup fimal).

Reims won promotion to the French first division for the first time in 1946. That time period saw the arrival of two players who would become central to Reims’ subsequent success – defender Robert Jonquet (Reims, 1945-60) and defender Roger Marche (Reims, 1944-54). In 1948-49, in just their third season in the first division, Reims won their first French title, pipping Lille by a single point. At this point in time, Reims’ midfielder Michel Leblond began his 13-year tenure with the club. The next season, Reims won the Coupe de France, defeating Racing Paris 2-1 in the final. Reims won it’s second national title in 1953, when they were managed by longtime Reims midfielder Albert Batteaux (Reims, 1937-50). Batteaux would manage Reims for 13 seasons (1950-63), and lead the club to 5 French titles (in 1953, 1955, 1958, 1960, and 1962), as well as the 1958 Coupe de France title (defeating Nîmes Olympigue 3-1 in the final). Batteaux also led Reims to two European Cup final appearances. Reims were runners-up to Real Madrid both times, losing in agonizing fashion by a score of 4 to 3 in the first-ever European Cup final in 1956 before 38,000 in Paris {see this, ‘1956 European Cup Final‘ (}, then losing again 3 years later in 1959 to the Albert Di Stéfano-captained Real Madrid by a score of 2-0 in front of 72,000 in Stuttgart, Germany. The Reims of the late 1950s featured 4 French internationals – Just Fontaine, Jean Vincent, Roger Piantoni, and Dominique Colonna. The Marrakech, Moroccan-born Just Fontaine had the astounding goals-to-game ratio of 93% with Reims, making 131 appearances and scoring 122 goals (1956 to 1962). The year after their 1962 French championship, Reims finished second to AS Monaco, and their veteran midfielder Leblond moved on to RC Strasbourg. The following season, Reims finished in 17th place, and were relegated (there were 4 relegated clubs per year in France, back in the early part of the 1960s). It took Reims 3 seasons in the second division to win promotion back to the First Division, but when they did, they went straight back down, finishing in 19th place in 1966-67. It took Reims 3 years again to get out of the second division, and this time, when they returned in 1970-71, Reims lasted 9 seasons, with a high point of 1974-75, when they finished in 5th place, behind Nantes (4th), Nice (3rd), Sochaux (2nd), and St. Étienne (champions).

Since then, for Stade de Reims, it was over three decades of being stuck in the football wilderness of France’s lower divisions. In 1991, Reims was administratively relegated to Division 3, after the club failed to find a buyer to help alleviate the club’s debt, which was around ₣50 million. Reims were liquidated in May, 1992. Reims was reborn in July 1992 under the name Stade de Reims Champagne. The club began play in the Division d’Honneur (4th division/amateur) and spent two seasons there before earning promotion to the Championnat National (3rd division), but at the end of the 1990s, Reims were stuck back in the forth division. The club changed its name back to Stade de Reims in 1999. In 2002, Reims finally got out of the third division. But then they were relegated right back to the third tier the next season. Reims rebounded back to the second division in 2004, yet for 5 seasons they failed to finish in the top half of Ligue 2. In 2008-09, Reims were relegated out of the 2nd division for the third time in less than a decade. Ex-Reims defender Hubert Fournier {his French wikipedia page, here} began as assistant coach in the summer of 2009, and after earning his coaching badges, Fournier took over as manager of Reims in June 2010. Meanwhile, Reims went straight back up to the second division once again in May, 2010. In 2010-11 in Ligue 2, Reims finished a decent 10th place, and 2011-12, Reims won promotion – finally – back to the first division, by finishing in 2nd place in Ligue 2, six points behind 2011-12 Ligue 2 champions SC Bastia, and 6 points clear of 4th place.

Now Reims have won two promotions in 3 years, and as fortune and good timing would have it, the club finds themselves very well set-up, with a totally renovated stadium, the Stade Auguste Delaune, which seats 21,800 and which re-opened in 2008. The City of Reims is the owner of the stadium. Stade de Reims drew 12,851 per game last season, and will probably draw from 18K to 20K per game in 2012-13, as long as they can consolidate and avoid an immediate drop back to the second division.

Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne is a club based in Troyes. The city of Troyes has a population of around 61,000. The club is most commonly referred to as Troyes, while Troyes AC is also used, and the ESTAC acronym is also used (but thankfully not so much, though, seeing as it just seems so odd to utter the word ‘Estack’). Troyes AC were founded in 1986. It is the third professional club from Troyes, after ASTS (1900-1965) and TAF (1970-79). Neither of the first two incarnations of the Troyes pro football club was in the French first division.

Counting 2012-13, Troyes AC has spent 7 seasons in Ligue 1, in 3 different spells. The first spell lasted from 1999-2000 to 2002-03 (4 seasons), and saw Troyes impressively finish in 7th place twice (2000-01 and 2001-02). Troyes collected a few scalps in Europe then, beating Newcastle United in the Intertoto Cup in 01/02, and Villarreal CF in the UEFA Cup in 02/03. Their European adventures probably contributed to their 18th place finish and relegation in 2003. Alain Perrin was manager of Troyes for a decade, from 1993 to 2002, and under him Troyes first established themselves in the French scene, while playing some attractive football to boot (Perrin then went on to manage Marseille, Portsmouth, Sochaux, Lyon, and Saint-Étienne, before he went over to Qatar for irrelevancy and fat paychecks, managing the club Al-Kor, and now currently coaching the Qatar national team).

Troyes’ next spell in the top flight was a 2-season stint from 2004-05 to 2005-06. Now, after five seasons in Ligue 2, Troyes are back in Ligue Un, after finishing in 3rd place in the 2011-12 Ligue 2, where they ended up 5 points ahead of fourth-place finishers Sedan. and won 4 of their last 5 matches. Their manager is Jean-Marc Furlan {his French wikipedia page here}.

Troyes play at the 21,684-capacity Stade de l’Aube, which was opened in 1924, was renovated in 1956, and was totally renovated in 2004. Troyes averaged 10,785 per game last season. When they first made it to the first division, in the early 2000s, Troyes were averaging in the 14,000 per game range. I am gussing they’ll average around 17K or 18K per game this season.

Photo credits on map page -
Troyes (aka ESTAC)/ Stade de l’Aube – Exterior photo of Stade de l’Aube at night by Aerial image is a screenshot from’s Eye satellite view (view to the East). Interior photo of Main Stand [unattributed] from Interior photo during night-time match [2007] by Photo of Troyes supporter-group Magic Troyes 1997 [unattributed] from Troyes official site, at

Reims/ Stade Auguste Delaune – Photo from re-constuction of Stade Auguste Delaune (circa 2007) from via Exterior photo of the renovated Stade August Delaune by Ludovic Péron at Aerial photo of the renovated Stade Auguste Delaune uploaded by parcdesprinces at, STADIUM AERIALS (three-quarters of the way down the page). Interior photo of the renovated Stade Auguste Delaune Wahrerwattwurm at Interior photo of the renovated Stade Auguste Delaune with crowd at night uploaded by parcdesprincers at Thread: FRANCE – Stadium and Arena Development News (one-quarter of the way down the page).Reims’ supporters pitch invasion: photo from stands by Stidpmi at Reims’ supporters pitch invasion: screenshot of video uploaded by ProdKenny at via

SC Bastia/ Stade Armand Cesari – Photo of since-demolished old South Stand [unattributed] from Aerial photo [circa 2007] by Marc Anto at Photo of new South Stand under construction [March 2012] from RCLD at Interior photo of Stade Armand Cesari, (with completed South Stand at the left), from May 2012, by tolenga dany at Photo of Bastia fans with scrves and banners in the stands with Bastia players in an on-field huddle (circa 2010-11 season) [unattributed] from

Thanks to E-F-S site for attendances,
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en. and fr., ‘2012–13 Ligue 1‘.
Thanks to Eric Gaba at, for the base map of France (blank topographic map of France with regional boundaries),

WordPress database error: [Table 'bil072291136157.wp_comments' doesn't exist]
SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = '1' AND comment_post_ID = 18374 ORDER BY comment_date_gmt ASC

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress