Auxerre takes the elevator back to the elite

Auxerre takes the elevator back to the elite
Auxerre takes the elevator back to the elite

Relegated last season following an express round trip to L1, AJ Auxerre returned to the elite of French football after their draw (0-0) at Amiens on Friday, Ligue 2 title up for grabs before the last day.

One day before the end of the championship, Christophe Pélissier’s men have 71 points and can no longer be overtaken by Angers which, thanks to its last-minute success (2-1) in Annecy, is only four lengths behind, while Saint-Etienne (third with 65 pts) conceded a draw (1-1) against Rodez.

“Irreducible”

However, AJA suffered at the Stade de la Unicorne. The Picards tried everything to delay the visitors’ coronation and multiplied opportunities in front of the goal guarded by the excellent Donovan Léon. The Auxerre goalkeeper relaxed to deflect a penalty from Mafouta (71st). Two other exceptional saves, first in front of Kaïboué, then on a shot from Chouair (80th, 88th), made it possible to validate the comeback for good.

At the end of the match, the players wearing jerseys emblazoned with the message “Irréducible Auxerrois” remained for several tens of minutes communing with their numerous supporters in Amiens to celebrate their return to Ligue 1.

Christophe Pélissier, a true exercise specialist

The club owes this rise in particular to the science of its trainer Christophe Pélissier, a true exercise specialist. The 58-year-old coach, who arrived at the Icaunais club in October 2022 after the dismissal of Jean-Marc Furlan, is one of the main architects of this accession, the second in three years.

Like his predecessor, Pélissier is a master in the art of promotions to the next level, a feat he achieved seven times during his career, including three in L1. On the other hand, he did not succeed in 2023 in the rescue operation for which he had been committed to maintaining the AJA: the Burgundians had finished 17th in L1 during the last financial year, the only relegation of his coaching career.

Despite everything, he had extended his contract by one year, until 2025 with an additional year as an option, the Chinese James Zhou, president-owner, highlighting the improvement in the team’s performance since taking power. of the technician. By not hesitating to give young people a chance, Christophe Pélissier is following the line of the Icaunais club whose training remains one of the fundamental pillars.

And the return to Ligue 1, especially if it is sustained, will be an additional asset in attracting talent from the Ile-de-France region, a privileged area due to its proximity to the capital of Yonne (35,000 inhabitants). ).

Strong enthusiasm

On a popular level, the relegation did not call into question the strong enthusiasm around the team, born at the time of its accession to Ligue 1 in spring 2022, which was reinforced with the sporting dynamic which carried the AJA at the forefront in L2. The Auxerres thus definitively took the lead in the championship on the evening of the 24th day.

Supporters flock from all directions to the Abbé-Deschamps stadium, from Yonne of course, but also from Aube, Nièvre, the north of the Côte d’Or and even Loiret. The average number of spectators this season is approximately 15,000 spectators, including 9,000 season ticket holders, in an enclosure which can accommodate 18,000.

Financially, the relegation had not disrupted the general functioning of AJ Auxerre, which had reduced its budget from 32 million to 22 million euros for the 2023-2024 financial year.

In Ligue 1, it should again be between 30 and 35 million euros thanks in particular to the increase in TV rights. With this budget, sporting ambitions seem to have to be limited to maintenance.

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