‘Not a pyramid scheme’ – Marc Keller defends Strasbourg homeowners from accusations of misplaced identification, youth focus, and prioritising Chelsea TERMAN WEBSITE

Marc Keller’s time as president of RC Strasbourg Alsace noticed him take management of the membership in 2012 guiding them out of the fourth division and again into the highest flight. Within the 2018-19 season, this noticed the membership win their fourth Coupe de la Ligue, and within the 2021-22 season, a sixth-place end. 

Final season was a turning level in additional methods than one for Strasbourg because the facet that had completed solely three factors away from a European place was now mired in a battle on the backside of the desk. This was sufficient to persuade Keller that the membership had reached its aggressive ceiling and with out exterior monetary funding the membership could be in bother. 

In stepped, the BlueCo consortium who solely a 12 months prior had purchased Chelsea FC. Keller would have the funding, however it got here at a worth. A revamped technique focusing solely on youth gamers and a lingering stress with supporters cautious that they could be on the foot of a multi-club mannequin constructed principally to serve the workforce in London. 

An finish of a cycle for Strasbourg

It’s a choice that Keller nonetheless defends as he spoke to L’Équipe, “The arrival of BlueCo was important to permit Le Racing to be extra aggressive within the coming years.” Because the president additional explains, “We nonetheless have two and a half years work [on Stade de la Meinau]… it’s higher to be well-supported, and we’re. We’ll lose ticketing income subsequent 12 months and put round twenty million euros again into the stadium.” 

Keller additionally hit again at the concept that Strasbourg are being prescribed a venture that they will neither management nor affect, “We are saying that it’s the BlueCo venture however in actuality, it’s the venture that we already had on the membership. We needed to take a step ahead and this venture is boosted by BlueCo. If I stayed, it’s as a result of I consider in it.

Nonetheless, the summer season was a dramatic interval, the place 53 million euros was spent on 4 gamers all aged twenty, whereas switch targets akin to Davinson Sánchez (27) and Kenyan Joseph Okumu (26) have been all refused. 

Once more Keller rejects that youth has been prioritised over all else, “We had reached the top of a cycle… we had in thoughts that we would have liked to get youthful. We’re informed that we solely play younger gamers however we thought of that we had ten skilled gamers out of twenty to twenty-two. We should not caricature the technique we now have put in place

Keller continues, “We had a workforce with a median age of 28 and we needed to go right down to 23-24… We have been in a position to safe younger expertise courted with the sources supplied by BlueCo. Gamers with potential are BlueCo’s coverage, however it’s additionally ours.” 

‘Chelsea is a ‘brother’ membership, not above us, however subsequent to us’

A report had come out following the winter switch window that had seen varied potential targets rejected allegedly by Behdad Eghbali, one of many main shareholders in BlueCo, in favour of extra sport time for Chelsea loanee Ângelo Gabriel (19). 

A choice that has backfired after the left winger picked up an harm, and appeared to verify the distrust that sections of the supporters have with their new possession.  Keller once more rejected this idea, “No [Eghbali doesn’t run the club]… I communicate with a number of individuals from BlueCo, together with Eghbali who I communicate to recurrently on the telephone.” 

Keller continued by making an attempt to guarantee the membership’s fanbase, “Change is horrifying and it’s an enormous change… [but] we’re not in a pyramid scheme, Chelsea is a ‘brother’ membership, not above us, however subsequent to us.

There’s been a worry that the membership has within the technique of being purchased misplaced a few of its distinctive identification as the one main consultant of the Alsace area, a culturally particular a part of France. “Racing stays Racing… We need to reap the benefits of [BlueCo’s] assist to go larger. Help will come once more with time and victory. The general public are solely beginning to determine with the gamers.” 

‘We took benefit of the connection with Chelsea’ 

Once more Keller needed to make use of this interview to push again on what he believes to be an unfair narrative that January was a worrying time for the membership the place they depleted their sources, as not solely did they not recruit closely however they allowed for vital figures like Matz Sels (32) to go away. “He shouldn’t have left. The telephone name got here the night earlier than… Matz determined to go away and the employees believed in Alaa Bellaarouch (22).” 

As for the arrivals, we needed to recruit a left-back and a left-winger,” He explains, “That couldn’t be finished and we mentioned to ourselves that we shouldn’t recruit for the sake of recruiting. Habib Diarra (20) may play on the left and, on this case, we would have liked an extra versatile midfielder [to replace him]. We took benefit of the connection with Chelsea to herald Andrey Santos.” 

What comes subsequent for Strasbourg is unclear, the outcomes have been patchy as a younger and skinny squad faces the wear and tear and tear of an extended season. Whether or not the membership will stick with a youth-focused technique for the summer season window will seemingly have already been determined, however Keller was giving no hints. “We’re eager about what comes subsequent however now just isn’t the time to speak about it. We’ll take inventory on the finish of the season. Like yearly, we are going to attempt to discover options.

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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