"When I made my first match at Bollaert, I had my hair bristling," says defender Jonathan Gradit, 27, trained in Bordeaux and disembarked from Caen last season. I have done many L1 games without feeling that. I don't dare imagine what it's going to be in Ligue 1. Here it's more than a football club. It is an identity and many people claim it. "
The return of RC Lens to the elite indeed carries the promise of nineteen grandiose atmospheres next season. "Our audience has been evolving in Ligue 1 for years", assures Sylvain Robert, the mayor PS of Lens who, the last time that the team had risen in the elite, for the 2014-2015 season, had gone to see it playing in Amiens, the Bollaert stadium was then under renovation in preparation for Euro 2016.
“There are more places (38,000) in the stadium than intramural residents (32,000), adds the mayor. But if we consider the Lens-Liévin agglomeration, 250,000 inhabitants, we have an entirely different weight… ”
25,000 spectators on average
Despite having hosted the L 2 for almost a decade, Bollaert has never sounded hollow. "This season, we made an average of 25,000 spectators, the 5th influx L 1 and L 2 combined," reports Norman Noisette, president of Lens United, the federation of supporter groups. After ten years of hardship, it shows a real passion. "
A few days before the opening of the subscription campaign, Le RC Lens, 16,000 to 17,000 spectators subscribed this season, "hopes," says managing director Arnaud Pouille, "to significantly cross the 25,000 subscriber mark. And secretly, reach 28,000… ”
[Abo | Season 2019/2020]
The Lens United Federation invites supporters to renounce any form of compensation in order to support @RCLens as well as the following actions: #RCLens #Supporters pic.twitter.com/qbI3BI0XJX
The epicenter of Lens's passion is in the Marek gallery - named after Anton Marek, a pre-war Austrian defender, author of three goals at Saint-Etienne on May 12, 1935, while Lens was led 3-0…
"The particularity of Bollaert is that the kop is located in a side gallery and not behind a goal," explains Norman Noisette. The "Marek" faces the exit of the players and the bench. This is where the main groups of active and ultra supporters, the most important of which are the Red Tigers, Kop Sang et Or, the Galiboys and the Cap'tain-Siko. " (Note: the latter groups are not affiliated to the federation Lens United)
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Grandstand exclusively "standing", the famous grandstand will see its gauge officially increased from 4,000 to 5,200 seats in the course of 2021. "The" Marek "being 100% dedicated to subscribers, the quest for the Grail consists year after year of reclaim places for people who move or die, explains Noisette. For four-five years, groups have been created behind the goals but have only been waiting for one thing: to join the “Marek”. "
After the premature cessation of the championship this season, while the club occupied second place in the ranking, 25% of subscribers donated to the club the amount that it proposed to reimburse or credit them. A golden audience, for sure.