How TFC became “a great and exciting club”

How TFC became “a great and exciting club”

This Sunday is game day in the Pink City. The TFC hosts Strasbourg at 3:00 p.m., while the Stade Toulousain hosts La Rochelle at 9:05 p.m. As expected, Ernest-Wallon and its 19,000 seats will remain full during the clash between the two best teams in the Top 14. But the crowd in the Stadium will not suffer, since more than 20,000 spectators are expected for an even less flowery duel. . between 10 and 17 in Ligue 1.

This is the ninth time in a row, L1 and L2 included, that this bar has been exceeded during a Violets game. Unprecedented for the promoted player, who already had the best average attendance last season on the ground floor (12,510 spectators per game).

Dutch midfielder Branco van den Boomen congratulated by his teammates after his penalty during TFC - Angers (3-2), on October 16, 2022 in Ligue 1.
Dutch midfielder Branco van den Boomen congratulated by his teammates after his penalty during TFC – Angers (3-2), October 16, 2022 in Ligue 1. – Fred Scheiber / Sipa

“Given the size of the city [plus d’un million d’habitants dans l’agglomération], there is room for everyone”, says Didier Pitorre, 55 years old, 50 of whom have spent in the stands of the Stadium. “The Stade Toulousain practices a sport for beginners, the TFC a popular sport, develops the historian and collector of the “Tef”, also red and black, which will chain soccer and rugby this Sunday. The players give everything, the matches are spectacular, there are no cheats. We are sailing in a dynamic reminiscent of Lens. »

occitan song I sing still does not arouse the same fervor as The settlements of Bollaert. But the abandoned graveyard atmosphere that bathed Ramier Island in the years leading up to relegation in 2020 has given way to a colorful carnival atmosphere, created by Dutch esthete Branco van den Boomen and his companions.

A rebirth after the plunge into indifference

“The Covid had shortened our suffering to 10 days from the end of a catastrophic season, Pitorre rewinds. Behind, is this change of direction. A true collective was born and we did not stray far from the immediate recovery with the dams [échec contre Nantes en mai 2021]. Then he chained himself. The public first followed by proxy a team collecting colors. When the sanitary restrictions were lifted, he was able to really discover it. »

Marked by the adventure of the Pitchouns del Nacional to L1 between 2001 and 2003, two European qualifications (2007 and 2009) and the incredible comeback signed by Pascal Dupraz (2016), the era of Olivier Sadran ended in indifference and resignation for make way for the RedBird Americans. In the offices, President Damien Comolli and CEO Olivier Jaubert have piloted a ship from Toulouse since the summer of 2020, whose epic fascinates the crowd more and more.

“The only club in France that does that”

It is not necessary to flood the clubs in the region with invitations to try to hide the misery, and painfully reach an average attendance of 14,232 spectators in 2019-2020. “It is not interesting for anyone, cut Oliver Jaubert. We have the second lowest invite rate in L1 with an average of 5.4%. The show is of quality, like the experiences we have at the Stadium. So we think it is worth buying. »

Not at any price, however: “Anyone can come. The first prices for renewed subscriptions are 7 euros per game. In loose meetings, the cheapest places must be 15 euros. against PSG [une affiche à guichets fermés avec 31.700 spectateurs], half of the Stadium was less than 30 euros. We are the only club in France that does that. »

The TFC has this season an unprecedented total of 13,300 subscribers and welcomes a feminized audience (18% of subscribers), rejuvenated and renewed. “65% of people had never subscribed before,” slides Jaubert. This Sunday, the Brice-Taton corner, the corner of the tireless ultras of the Indians where the heart of the purple “hobby” beats, will be, as always, packed. His vis-à-vis, the Christophe-Revault curve will also be full.

Before the game, the esplanade will be filled with activities related to football and “food trucks” that will offer “local, cheap and quality products”, according to Jaubert, who reveals the theme of the day: “the real Toulouse sausage craft”, as a friendly snub to Strasbourg and its charcuterie.

local colored strangers

Among the posters since this summer is Croq’Michel, by Michel Sarran. “We do the pre-game at the Stadium, then we’ll be at Ernest-Wallon,” underlines the two-star chef. “Damien Comolli and Olivier Jaubert have managed to restore a desire, a dynamic around the TFC, continues the former Top Chef jury member. We saw it last season for access to L1 and it is confirmed this season. There is a great atmosphere. We feel the desire to win, to be part of a group. »

In six home games, the fans have so far witnessed only one defeat (excusable against Paris, 0-3) and have seen 21 goals (3.5 on average per game), including 11 of their favourites. If thanks to the magic of the data the squad is very cosmopolitan (eight foreigners in the starting team last Sunday against Angers, 3-2), it is worth the grinta of the Belgian ‘Bibiche’ Dejaegere or the Dutch van den Boomen and Spierings . all the passports, together with the promising French Rouault and Chaïbi.

The Danish Mikkel Desler leaves the stadium by bicycle after playing his matches with TFC.
The Danish Mikkel Desler leaves the stadium by bicycle after playing his matches with TFC. – Valentin Chapuis / AFP

“If you ask them, there is no one who wants to live elsewhere, smiles Olivier Jaubert. They do not take themselves as unattainable people. Almost every day, we see a photo of one of our players on Twitter, be it van den Boomen, Spierings or Nicolaisen. [défenseur central danois], with a supporter in the city. When Mikkel Desler [piston droit danois] He leaves the Stadium, crosses the esplanade on his bicycle and stops for the fans. This sense of contact is their culture and it is ours. »

“The players have a bit of rugby spirit,” judges Sofiane Guitoune, well placed to compare her as three-quarters of the international center at Stade Toulousain. “They don’t play with small arms, they enjoy. They are very, very supportive. I follow him on social networks and it makes me want to encourage them. Guitoune and most of her teammates had come to support the Violets against PSG, along with the Indians, to symbolize an agreement between leaders that was not evident a few years ago.

“The most important thing is to see our city shine”

“The presidents of the clubs have a lot to do with it, emphasizes Michel Sarran, close to the stadium boss Didier Lacroix, accustomed to the Stadium basket. They managed to create a real synergy. We are proud to see Toulouse teams succeed, whether in football, rugby, handball, women’s basketball… Whatever the sport, the most important thing is to see our city shine. »

“Toulouse is not a rugby city, it is a sports city, continues Olivier Jaubert. The equivalent of Real Madrid in rugby is there, all the better, but there are a total of seven top clubs in the metropolis. We are not in competition at all. On the contrary, we try to do many things together. Soon, we will announce something that no one expects. Based on national data from a few years ago, the DG reveals that “in cities where there are both sports at the highest level, we know that between 20 and 30% of the public will watch regardless of rugby or football. »

A goal of 25,000 viewers on average

If with its Coupe de France won with René Coty (1957), the TFC cannot, of course, compete in the prize list with the cousin of Ovalie, the most successful team in Europe, however, it does not fear many people in the field of communication. Since long before the start of the RedBird era, the dedicated unit has been unmatched when it comes to mischievously bouncing the news. “The goal is to show that TFC is a cool club, says Jaubert. We have to be innovative to meet public expectations and grow our fan base. »

In a regional space limited only by Montpellier to the east and Bordeaux (today in L2) to the west, there is room to grow. “This season we expected an average of 16,000 spectators and it seems that we are going to be more, continues the technician. We save time and we can aim for 25,000 people in 2024-2025. “And why not more, if the TFC had the good idea to become familiar with the summits.

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