SCO Angers relegated to Ligue 2 after another defeat at Rennes (4-2)
It was written and it is now official, after a 25th defeat Sunday at Stade Rennais (4-2): an anachronistic time island of stability for the elite, Angers did not survive the explosion of their magic trio Chabane-Pickeu-Moulin and will begin a very uncertain course in Ligue 2 next season. Established in 2011, the association between Saïd Chabane, an industrialist in charcuterie, Olivier Pickeu, sports director and talent scout, and Stéphane Moulin, a tactician capable of reviving an assembly of novices and grognards each season, has worked wonders.
Together, they have slowly grown the club, relying on players drawn from Ligue 2, a solid defense and a few offensive successes that are quickly and often well sold: Nicolas Pépé, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Karl Toko Ekambi and more recently Mohamed -Ali Cho or Azzedine Ounahi. A rise in Ligue 1 in 2015, a Coupe de France final narrowly lost to PSG (1-0) in 2017, a team that sometimes settled on the podium in the first leg before suffering during the winter and then holding on: year after year, with one of the smallest budgets in the league and far from glitz and scandal, Angers have become a familiar face in the top flight. But at the beginning of February 2020, thunderclap: Chabane is indicted for aggravated sexual assault. He denies any misconduct but six young women have filed a complaint.
Gone into a tailspin
Since then everything has gone into a spin: Chabane has not resolved to step back, he sacked Pickeu in the spring of 2020, then a series of other collaborators over the years, which have earned the club a subscription to the prud’hommes . And his efforts to find a buyer remain in vain, while finances are in the red. After ten years at the head of the team, Moulin chose to leave with his staff in the summer of 2021 and join Pickeu, now president of Caen (L2).
Called to take over, Gérald Baticle was able to rely on the former pillars of the locker room, present since 2015, to provide the essentials last year. But this year, everything went wrong. At the end of the contract, the executives have almost all left and the workforce cobbled together with the means at hand has not made the weight. Weighed down by its irregularity and individual errors, the team has been at the bottom since the 12th day and has suffered a record series of 13 defeats in a row this winter.
Faced with the disaster, Chabane fired Baticle and launched Abdel Bouhazama, head of the training center. Failure on the pitch and new public opprobrium in March after the revelation of sexist remarks by the coach in support of Ilyes Chetti, a full-back who admitted sexual assault.
“Chabane in Jail”
But a few weeks later, another thunderclap: Chabane is indicted for money laundering in an organized gang as part of an investigation into embezzlement during the transfer of players. The industrialist had ceded his position as president a few days earlier to his son Romain, but remains the owner of 99% of the club’s shares. Paradoxically, the team is doing better, under the leadership of Alexandre Dujeux, former assistant to Baticle then Bouhamaza. She even offered her first victory in Ligue 1 since September (1-0 against Lille) in early April, while the Ultras chanted “Chabane in prison”.
“We remain a Ligue 1 team until June 14, but after that we will have to work on something else and it starts now,” explained goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni. Two 17-year-olds, Justin Kalumba and Jean-Mattéo Bahoya, just launched into the deep end, illustrate the potential to come. But the two-year recruitment ban that Fifa has just pronounced following a dispute over the transfer of Chetti comes to dampen hopes, while the entire workforce will have to be rebuilt this summer. Hit with a similar sanction in 2021 for another case, the club got away with it on appeal. In the past, Angers have already fallen from the elite five times. The first three, he went up the following year. The next two, it took him 12 years and then 21 years.