Le Stade Bollaert ne sera pas rénové dans le cadre de l’organisation de l’Euro 2016. Le Conseil Régional, par la voie de son président, Daniel Percheron, qui vient de s’exprimer en séance publique mercredi, a entériné cette décision qui glace l’avenir économique et le développement du club artésien.
According to Daniel Percheron, president of the regional council of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, negotiations between the local governments, RC Lens, and the club’s majority shareholder Crédit Agricole, have fallen through, which means the end of any chance to get Stade Felix-Bollaert renovated before the Euro 2016 tournament.
Main bottleneck seems to have been the funding of the project, though concrete details have not been given yet.
Lens is the second host city to withdraw from Euro 2016, following Nancy. In both cases funding was the main issue, and earlier other cities that were once mentioned as potential hosts such as Strasbourg, Nantes, Metz, and Rennes already made clear not to want to invest in upgrading their stadiums.
This leaves Euro 2016 with 9 playing venues, which is also where it started until Toulouse and Saint-Etienne demanded to be included.
While this does not leave Euro 2016 in jeopardy, it should worry UEFA as it struggles to find candidate countries for the 2020 version. Hosting an expanded tournament and complying with the ever increasing UEFA requirements is clearly something that many countries baulk at in the current economic climate.
Lens, in the meantime, announced to close one of the four stands of Stade Felix-Bollaert next season. Though the club is known for its loyal support, playing in League 2 has brought attendances down to just over 20,000, and with a stadium double that size closing a stand is a pragmatic solution that can save several tens of thousands of euros.
© Photo: Flickr user gtanicko