Clermont Foot: Ahmet Schaefer – Jérôme Champagne, the reasons for the divorce

These two loved each other so much. It is in any case the image that they sent back to and in public. Schaefer-Champagne, Champagne-Schaefer. Communion, smiles and complicity. One ran the club from afar, from Switzerland, but never missed an opportunity to show off his often communicative packaging, especially via social media. The other, armed wing of the boss and dismounted asserted “adviser to the president” had been for three years the operational figurehead (with the discreet Yannick Flavien) of a project that both carried in unison. We would not have slipped a blade of grass between the two.

But that was before. The facade has just exploded and the two parts have torn apart last week. Seen at the resumption of training on June 29, we were surprised indeed since the prolonged absence of Jérôme Champagne, normally invited to follow the team as closely as possible. A withdrawal which appeared even more suspicious in Aurillac on Saturday during the last preparation match against Toulouse.

Alongside other areas of tension between the two parties, the stormy departure of defender Hountondji from Angers seems to have been the breaking point. President Schaefer says “having respected the word given to the player to let him leave in 2022” after asking him to stay last season after the climb. On this, the two men seem to rather agree, but for Champagne, “this exit voucher was worth an interesting offer. Not to go to a competitor for maintenance”.

5% of the shares?

It was at this time that Champagne said he understood that “the collegial and original direction” which had prevailed until then had “shattered”. He now takes the decisions alone, it has become a vertical system”. The club’s press release, signed Champagne, will serve as a casus belli. For his part, without denying “the painful side of any separation”, Ahmet Schaefer preferred in the preamble to salute the work of his late sidekick: “He has done a huge job in the last three years. I want to keep the best moments and the emotions experienced. In each household, when there is separation, it is never easy”, just dropped the boss.

“I’m not leaving the club, I’m kicked out”

Jerome Champagne (Ex-Advisor to Ahmet Schaefer)

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Not sure that this hat trick is enough to calm the now ex-adviser to the president who has a hard tooth. He even forgets the always calm tone that this trained diplomat inevitably detains at each speech: “I am not leaving Clermont Foot, which will have been the greatest adventure of my life, even ahead of diplomacy, the adventure of 1998 World Cup, or FIFA. No, I’m not leaving the club, I’m kicked out! It is unbelievable”.

No discussion between Lucas Da Cunha (Nice) and Clermont Foot

If the Hountondji affair may have appeared as the last friction sealing the break between the two men, the financial dispute is obviously never far away and appears as the Gordian knot of the affair. Jérôme Champagne repeated at will that the president had promised him at the start of their common adventure “to (we) pay 5% of the shares to me and Yannick (Flavien, another major adviser to the club). It’s a broken promise. I know I will never see that money.” Listening, we also guess that the differences are not new. “What I say may earn me a defamation lawsuit, but we (understand with Flavien) did everything to hide certain truths. He was not present. Often, we were asked: “But where is the president?” “.

And Champagne to cite another example of deep disagreements on the failed file of the takeover of the Danish club Vendsyssel FF, which returned very quickly with losses in support. The disgraced leader also accuses his former boss “of having wanted to dismantle the club’s French recruitment sector. We opposed it, especially when we know the quality of the work carried out for years by Philippe Vaugeois and his teams”.

Contacted in turn, Yannick Flavien could not be reached. But from a reliable source close to the club, he is part of the project currently led by Ahmet Schaefer and therefore remains moored at the club. For his part, Ahmet Schaefer did not want to add to it, believing “that things no longer suited Jérôme but that the club is above everything”.

“I want our good times. Jérôme Champagne has worked a lot for this club”

Ahmet Schäfer (President of Clermont Foot)

Refusing “to go into details” and rejecting any idea of ​​unpacking “in the public square”, the boss of Core Sports Capital, the holding company which oversees Clermont Foot and the Austrian club of Lustenau, will not go further. But while Champagne, beyond his presence throughout the 38 days of L1 last season, was a major interlocutor locally, particularly with institutions and politicians, the Zurich man did not close the door “to a possible recruitment “.

This is the club’s first major crisis since its takeover in March 2019, one week before the resumption of the championship.

Valery Lefort

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