FC Lens: the great history of a small club

FC Lens: the great history of a small club

Written by Sophie Robertson, In sports, Published On
December 24, 2023
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The results of FC Lens in the current Champions League do not impress the demanding fan, but it is worth making some allowance for the status of the team: this is a team from a very small city, and for such a team to get into the main European tournament is already a huge achievement. The local stadium with a capacity of 38 thousand spectators can accommodate the entire population of the town, numbering just over 30 thousand inhabitants. By our standards, this is a modest regional center, of which there are several in each region, but the club from here is far from an unknown outsider. If you want to support the red-golds with a bet, go to mostbet azerbaycan yükle, but for now, let’s figure out how the guys from the provinces became people.

About the city and the club

The city of Lens was founded back in the 12th century as a fortress, the main task of which was protection from attacks by the Normans. Anyone who knows history knows that around the same time, the Scandinavians stopped terrorizing Europe, so the main purpose of the town immediately disappeared. Its location on the border lands ensured that it passed from hand to hand without growing.

In the middle of the 19th century, Lens received a powerful incentive for development – coal deposits were discovered in its vicinity. In Europe, industry was developing rapidly, and large industrial centers were located nearby, which were in dire need of fuel. The town began to gradually become richer.

In 1906, a football club of the same name was founded here, and it’s easy to guess that local miners had a hand in this.

In 1932, a full-fledged football championship was organized in France, and Lens as a club by that time could already invite smart football players from outside, since it paid the players’ salaries. The following year, the team acquired a brand new stadium (the one in which they still play today), and in 1937 they made it to the top division for the first time.

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At first glance, the red and gold colors do not fit in with coal mining, but in fact, they are a nod to the local miners. The work in the mine is so risky that red symbolizes the blood shed by the workers.

As for gold, everything is obvious – it means gold, that is, the wealth that coal brought to the city. If you philosophize, it becomes something like “We earned success through hard work.

In the middle of the 20th century, Lens even achieved prizes in the French championship, but in the 60s the country’s coal industry began to be curtailed, and the club almost disappeared. He was saved by the then mayor of the city, a devoted fan, who managed to redraw the modest local budget in favor of football. In the era before multimillion-dollar contracts, even this was not bad – the red and gold in the 70s confidently stayed in the middle of the standings and occasionally broke into the European Cups. It was here that the coaching stars of young Roger Lemaire and Gerard Houllier sparkled, but the time was approaching when it would be impossible to do without a generous sponsor. Luckily, he was found!

With Auchan to new victories

At the end of the last century, football changed beyond recognition: now it doesn’t matter what school you have, it’s much more important to make money or have a reliable sponsor behind you who can cover your financial rear. Lance was lucky – in the 80s, he began to be sponsored by no less than Auchan, which even then was a rather large company with good prospects.

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On the one hand, the headquarters of the supermarket chain is located in Roubaix, which is only 50 km from Lens, so the choice of a partner seems obvious to someone who does not know the intricacies. The nuance is that Roubaix is ​​a suburb of Lille, a much larger city with a good club of the same name. It is also a fundamental rival for the red and gold in the eternal struggle for leadership in the region. What is the reason for the investor’s unobvious choice?

The regional rivalry, known as the “northern derby“, is based on the miners’ dislike of Lille, which has traditionally been home to main merchants and service workers. The then top managers of Auchan were not born and raised in Lens, but still came from mining towns and had a certain sentiment towards the red and gold. Nothing specific is known about the sporting preferences of the Mulier family, which has owned the business for all these decades, and the chain of supermarkets with the recognizable “bird” on the emblem continues by inertia the partnership began many years ago.

For many years, cooperation remained in the shadows and did not catch the eye. The Auchan logo as the title sponsor appeared on the red and gold T-shirts just a few years ago, and only in September 2023 the Mulier family first bought a 13% stake in the club. Over 40 years of funding, different things have happened to the team – it even won Ligue 1 in 1998, but also experienced the bitterness of relegation. All this does not matter, because the union is only getting stronger, cooperation is becoming closer, and the team from a small mining town is making its way to the Champions League and, even without snatching stars from the sky there, does not lose face.

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