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Sainté insurance / France / Saint-Étienne / March 21, 2022 /

In the age of football business, a small group of AS Saint-Étienne lovers decided to set up a project to give the club back to its supporters. Meeting with the two founders of the “Socios Verts” project, who dream of having as many members as there are places in the Cauldron.

“It goes back to October 2021, watching a match, I say to myself: “We’ve been playing maintenance for three years, we have to change something, create a new momentum…” For me, the club was too disconnected from its base. » Thierry Simonet is a lover of AS Saint-Étienne, a real one. And since the fall, he has also been the president and co-founder of the Socios Verts association, which aims to set up a “socios” project in his favorite club. “This project, it was our two presidents who mentioned it first, without ever realizing it. But if we look at things objectively, it’s incongruous that a club like ours hasn’t already put this in place. » With Jérémy Chatonnier, now co-president and also keen to promote a popular movement around ASSE, Simonet is setting up the project with a first base of eight members. “At the beginning, I thought it would take three or four months, but now I understand that it will be difficult and long. But we have made progress: 8 people at the start, almost 30 today, with varied skills, guys and girls who work hard…” Voluntarily, of course.

“Defend the identity and values ​​of our club”

The objective of the merry band? “We often imagine that socio projects are to impose players from the training center in the first team” poses the vice-prez Chatonnier from the outset. “In reality, we would like more young people from the club in the first team, it’s true, but we have no demands around the sports project. Our ambition is to provide solutions, an improvement in the relationship between the club and its base, the match experience, charitable actions. In fact, we simply want to defend the identity and values ​​of our club. » In concrete terms, this means that Socios Verts aims to enter the capital of the club with a financial contribution of between 2.5 and 5 million euros. Not enough to obtain full powers. “But having a representative on the steering committee, for example, to be able to make the voice of the supporters heard, to establish transparency, would already be a great success” says Jérémy Chatonnier.

The outlook is dependent on the conditions of the future sale, long delayed by the sluggish results of the Greens. “Today, our project will depend on the amount that we will be able to put on the table, whether or not our approach is accepted by the leaders or future leaders of the club, and the expectations of both parties. » At present, the association has only raised 180,000 euros in pledges, but hopes to continue to glean support as the weeks go by. “In particular by obtaining the official support of former players like Marc Zanotti, the first to take a stand this month, others will follow and help us gain visibility which we hope will reach a national spectrum” argues Simonet.

Play it like Bastia

Originally from Clermont, fell in love with the club in 1974-1975 with the European epic completed in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich, the founder of Socios Verts came to make his life in the Saint-Etienne region. “out of pure love for the club” . The 1976 generation, which made him want to join ASSE, holds the keys to the project. “A current player will not be able to support us, he cannot position himself, nor even an active player who might want to convert to the club. On the other hand, those of 76, they no longer have a career stake and everyone knows them. If some start to support us, it could go up very quickly. » The association already has 1,700 registered as future donors, Simonet hopes to reach 42,000, “for the symbolism of a sold-out Geoffroy-Guichard” .

The road is still long, but it is important to impose the efforts that it implies according to Chatonnier, because “we can see that it is necessary to return to certain fundamental values ​​of football, such as the fact that a club must belong to its supporters” . To support his argument, he uses international news. “Having foreign billionaires at the head of clubs means being subject to the geopolitical context, like Chelsea today. Imagine that tomorrow, it is Qatar that is isolated, what will become of PSG? » Failing to answer this question, he gladly specifies what he would like for Saint-Étienne: “A model comparable to what they managed to install in Bastia initially. For the long term, the ultimate model is not necessarily FC Barcelona, ​​which is cheerfully cited as the club of socios par excellence, but rather Bayern Munich, which has built an exemplary balance in the relationship between management and the supporters. » Meaning: Green Socios do not see themselves leading, only being “guardians of the club’s identity” .

By Nicolas Jucha
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