Sportingly, five points separate Liège and Seraing before the Sunday derby. A gap which does not reflect the form curve of the two formations, as the Sang et Marine quickly found their cruising speed in the division, unlike the Steelworkers unable to extricate themselves from the bottom of the ranking.
In the stands, the difference between the two Liège entities is even greater. Abysmal even. A figure attests to this: 3,200 supporters travel to Rocourt during each home match, compared to just under 900 at Pairay. A shame when we know that the capacity of the Seresian stadium is practically twice that of Liège. “For our part, the figures are similar to those recorded last season, in Nationale 1. Our fans are loyal, which is our strength, even if the television broadcast undoubtedly causes us to lose a little audience, especially when the weather is sullen,” we explain to RFCL.
Liège has four times more subscribers than Seraing
Seraing cannot count on such popular support, without this being a surprise. Between the repurchase of a number, the incessant changes within management and the arrival of foreign players, Seresian supporters have never had the opportunity to identify with this team. The stadium, owned by the city, also no longer meets the comfort criteria of modern football. “Last season, the wife of our former sports director Carlos Freitas was invited among the VIPs. She was used to traveling to Porto and Benfica and therefore wore a beautiful white outfit. After sitting on the bench of the honorary stand, her dress was more black than white…”, they say within the black and red club.
On average, 3,200 travel to Rocourt, compared to only 900 to Seraing…
However, copying and pasting the Liège strategy would not guarantee success for Seraing. Certainly, the Sang et Marine count on a stable core, made up largely of Liégeois, but above all they can cope with an old guard who has remained faithful despite the numerous sporting and financial problems encountered over the last decades. At the same time, the club has tried to rejuvenate its attendance and is starting to reap the benefits, particularly in the stand behind the goal. “Links have been forged and passed down from generation to generation for 125 years,” they say in Liège.
A bell ringing confirmed in Seraing. “Liège is an emblematic club. We face competition from Standard because we saw many players and supporters migrate to Sclessin when our club encountered difficulties.
73 tickets sold against Beerschot
Let’s go into a little more detail about the numerical comparison. Liège has a reservoir of more or less 1,200 subscribers while there are just over 300 in Seraing. Despite everything, the Liège management wants to be ambitious and would like to fill the 950 remaining places. “It’s the paid entries that help keep the club going but we’re quite happy with the enthusiasm, we’re not going to be picky.”
A more than welcome modesty because Seraing is unable to fill its bays, despite the numerous commercial actions undertaken over several years. Young people from the Academy, the City and sponsors receive free places, without this increasing the attendance.
The players cannot therefore count on the support of a twelfth man capable of turning a match upside down. Three weeks ago, the Beerschot reception allowed the stands to be filled a little more with an official figure of 1,159 supporters. But, by removing subscribers, sponsors and guests as well as fans of the Antwerp club, only… 73 tickets had been sold to welcome the leader of the competition. “We have already tried to implement different actions without it bearing fruit. An example ? Fans could buy two tickets for ten euros but the repercussions were quite meager. Perhaps a hundred or two hundred additional supporters came, at most…”
Seraing fans saddened but motivated
Seraing’s results have not been the best for several (long) months now and the future seems to be written in dotted lines, with question marks. And yet, the few fervent fans are still there and trying to hang on as best they can. This is particularly the case of Stéphane Wolteche, vice-president of the RFC Seraing Fan Club, and his son. “I have been following the club for 30 or 40 years. When we don’t know the story, we feel frustrated and sad. But when we analyze it a little, we understand better what is happening today. Seraing has not gained much in its history and it has lost its former fervor. When I see the empty stands on television, it’s far from happy,” he explains.
While at RFC Liège, this fervor is still very present and contributes greatly to success. “The registration number is a kind of business asset. We lost it after several mergers. And then, the absorption by Standard in the 1990s hurt.”
And then, in Seraing, it lacks this local, Seresian side, which could help the club to have an anchor, an identity. “In Liège, the players fight for a jersey, it’s a family, with Liégeois in the staff and management. For us, there is Metz behind, which deprives certain young people who do not come from there or from Génération Foot from having their chance. But hey, without them, our club might no longer be here, and we are aware of that.”
However, the few fans will be present in Liège and the visitors’ stand (250 seats) should be full. “There will be no combi-car. In addition, we organize a Saint Nicholas celebration before leaving for the stadium for the supporters. It will be a great day to experience the real Liège derby that we are waiting for.”
Seraing fans often gather together. ©UDBS
#Liège #won #stands #derby #Seraing #face #competition #Standard