Will the heart lean towards the follies of ovalie or the trance of the Stade de France? “Both my captain”, laughs François, an old supporter of the Toulouse Football Club, but above all a sports fan. This Saturday, April 29, the Pink City will be spoiled, ray emotions on the meadow. In the afternoon, the Reds and Blacks will face the Irish from Leinster in the semi-finals of the European Rugby Cup; and in the evening, the Violets will challenge FC Nantes in the final of the French Football Cup.
The two matches will follow one another on the giant screen set up for the occasion on the Place du Capitole. “It’s nice to see the two clubs make the city vibratecontinues François. The “Téfécé” remained at the dock for a long time, for lack of results. But for two years, the club has been pointing out that Toulouse is also a football city. Finally ! »
A fanfare ascent
That something was happening on the lawn of the Stadium, we could be convinced of it last year after the formidable season of the Violets in Ligue 2. An epic with 82 goals, historic record of the second division, and a title of a well-deserved champion, acquired two days before the end of the debates. The party had been grand. But would the rise in the elite allow the beautiful story to continue?
The TFC displays this year the 16e Ligue 1 budget: 40 million euros, far from the 700 million for PSG or the 250 million for the two Olympiques, Marseille and Lyon. But the team pulls out of the game, 12e six days before the end of the championship with 41 points, the virtual certainty of having ensured its maintenance at this stage. A well-cooked little cake, now with the icing of a Coupe de France final in the middle.
For club president Damien Comolli, if the team “outperforms expectations and payroll”, it is above all thanks to its recruitment system, at work since the takeover of the club in July 2020 by RedBird Capital Partners, the American investment fund also a minority partner of Liverpool and owner since the summer of 2022 of AC Milan . “We are still a small club in a big city, we are trying to grow, but we are at the bottom of the food scaleexplained the manager last February. When the bigger ones are served, we look at the remaining possibilities. »
Data rules recruitment
To guide its recruitment, an algorithm sifts through thousands of data. The TFC thus “scans” 70 championships, not hesitating to explore lower divisions, in search of the rare pearl. Symbols of the good picks made by the TFC, the Dutchman Branco van den Boomen, the main architect of the rise of the TFC in Ligue 1, voted best player in Ligue 2 last year and unearthed in the Dutch second division. Or, this year, the Chilean Gabriel Suazo, landed from Santiago for a first European experience, centerpiece of the Toulouse defense. Today, the workforce includes 19 different nationalities.
Its expertise in the matter, the TFC enriched it in 2021 by bringing in the Scottish Brendan MacFarlane who officiated at the English club of Brentford, reassembled in the Premier League after having been absent from the elite since 1947. After two years at the TFC , the specialist left the club in March to put his know-how at the service of Manchester City. Member of the recruitment cell, Julia Arpizou took over, the first woman to hold this position in France.
A “different” club
Damien Comolli likes to present the TFC as “a different club”. Supporters join. The Stadium painfully accommodated 7,000 spectators before the takeover, the average attendance has more than tripled this season. Subscribers are four times more numerous (around 13,500) than in 2020.
And now the winning of a famous trophy is looming. Football in Toulouse has few of them, when the rugby windows are full of them. It’s time to rebalance a bit.
Distribution of whistles
The Head of State Emmanuel Macron is expected Saturday evening at the Stade de France to attend the final of the Coupe de France, as tradition dictates. The departmental inter-union of Seine-Saint-Denis has planned to distribute red cards and whistles to spectators to protest against the pension reform.