Ligue 2: discover Clermont Foot, the new promoted in Ligue 1

The Clermont volcano has finally woken up. Despite his defeat at Caen (2-1), this Saturday May 15, 2021, during the 38th day of Ligue 2, thee Clermont Foot validated his ticket for Ligue 1 by finishing second in the standings behind Troyes. A rise that could not be more logical for a discreet and very regular club for almost 15 years. Long-term work that places the round balloon (almost) at the level of the oval balloon at the foot of the Auvergne volcanoes.

A historic first

At the level of French football, Clermont Foot is a rather young club, born in 1984 from the merger of the Stade Clermontois and the Association Sportive Montferrandaise, two teams which then alternated between D3 and D4. The objective of this merger: to reach the professional world. Thirty-seven years later, the Clermont Foot finally validated its first rise in Ligue 1 (Between 1942 and 1945, the Clermont Stadium spent three years in D1 in the so-called “war” championships, not counted). After a first stint in Ligue 2, in 1988-89, followed by bankruptcy, Clermont Foot was patiently built: return to L2 in 2003, and a continuous presence in the anteroom since 2007 outside of a season of N1. With fourteen years of rank in Ligue 2, Clermont had become a sure bet in the second division. Something to make you want L1.

Often placed, never rewarded

If Clermont has long embodied stability on the lower floor, the Auvergne club was not there to make up the figure. In fourteen years, Clermont Foot has finished in the top 10 seven times, despite one of the lowest budgets in the championship. A notable regularity in this very tough and homogeneous championship. Better: the Auvergne club has often flirted with the rise, whether under the orders of Didier Ollé-Nicolle in 2009 (5th), Michel Der Zakarian (6th in 2010, 7th in 2011, 5th in 2012 after having been champion of autumn) or in recent seasons with Pascal Gastien (6th in 2018, 5th in 2020). Often placed, never rewarded at the end of the season, Clermont has established himself as one of the natural contenders for the climb. Without the Covid, it might even have happened a year earlier, since in March 2020, at the end of the championship, Clermont was 5th, 4 points behind the leader of Lorient.

Gondola head of a conglomerate

For a long time masterfully held by Claude Michy, president from 2005 to 2019, the Clermont Foot 63 changed air in March 2019. At issue: the arrival of a new investor and president, the Swiss businessman Ahmet Schaefer. Aged 39, the new Clermont president is a continuation of his predecessor, while providing superior resources, which allowed the club to finally break its glass ceiling. Above all, Ahmet Schaefer has since acquired Austria Lustenau (Austrian D2) and FC Vendsyssel FF (Danish D2). The goal ? Create a synergy between the three clubs and pool what the clubs cannot afford individually. This is in any case the strategy of Schaefer, former collaborator of Sepp Blatter at Fifa, in whose eyes Clermont Foot is the head of the project.

A real game project

Third best attack behind Toulouse, but also best defense in Ligue 2, Clermont clearly did not steal his second place. The Auvergnats took 22 points out of 30 possible against the members of the top 6, the best total ahead of Troyes and Toulouse (15 points). Statistics worthy of a promotion, of course, but in addition to that, the Clermontois put it in the way. Because since Pascal Gastien took power on the bench in September 2017, Clermont has been deploying attacking football based on possession and movement, a shimmering game. But beyond that, the Auvergne club has allowed technicians to reveal themselves (Michel Der Zakarian, Corinne Deacon), and also many players installed in Ligue 1 or elsewhere (Alessandrini, Benatia, Ajorque, Grbic, Hunou, Pereira Lage, Capelle…).

The player: Mohamed Bayo

If it is necessary to leave a player of the collective Auvergne, it is obviously about Mohamed Bayo, without insulting the other major elements of the Clermont season (Allevinah, Dossou, Gastien, Ogier, Houtondji…). Born in Clermont, trained at CAF 63, the 22-year-old Franco-Guinean is the top scorer in Ligue 2 with 22 goals, one year after having already carried Dunkirk from N1 to L2. Back from this loan this summer, Bayo was therefore the main architect of the historic rise of his training club, for his first full season as a pro in Clermont. Result: 22 goals, 7 assists for this fast, powerful and skilful striker, key element of the rise of Clermont. Before being the one for maintaining L1? Answer next season.

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