Marcq-en-Barœul accelerates to become the first club of the Alts-de-France in Pro D2

The club of the north, that accedes to National 2 (4e division), continues its irresistible rise. It has just launched a fundraiser with a stated goal: to get to the anteroom of the Top 14 as soon as possible.

How far will the Olympic Marcquois Rugby, 150e are there still five years left in the hexagonal hierarchy? The Marcq-en-Barœul club, in the suburbs of Lille, has since swallowed up three divisions and has just entered the National 2 (4e division). And it intends not to stop there, as its president, Olivier Gradel, has confirmed in Figaro. “ We have proposed two seasons to go up to the National. Two or three more to get to Pro D2. Then there is the structuring of the project and there is the uncertainty of the sport. You can be the best organized and sometimes fail in the field. Maybe we’ll have to wait a little longer …I would swear that this is not on the roadmap of this ambitious and hasty leader, who in 2018 took over a club with 1.8 million euros in debt, as it is full of projects to make the ‘OMR the flagship of northern rugby.

So, in early April, he launched a fundraiser, playing with local fiber to raise capital, he being the main shareholder alongside the association. “We are looking for 1.5 million euros initially. We will be launching an identical second fundraiser in two years to complete it.“And it works.”At the end of June we will be in the middle of the goal with people putting between 1,000 and 50,000 euros. I think we will have reached it in early September. We are in discussion with mutual funds capable of making the change.That is, a dozen investors who weigh between 60 and 70% of this first bet (compared to a hundred others, more modest). “Profiles assigned to the territorial identity of the project“, specifies the leader. Included for major contributors.”Members of the Mulliez family (which owns, among others, the brands Auchan, Décathlon, Boulanger, Flunch …, the last three are already sponsors of the club, note from the editor) they will enter the capital as shareholders.»

Olivier Gradel already knows how to use this new money: “the creation of a training center to be even more efficient with young people; strengthening the administrative structure, in particular the business unit; hiring experienced players.“One more step in a club already surprisingly structured by the level in which it evolves. “We really worked on a communication strategy and put in place an administrative and financial structure to ensure supervised and sound management.The club, which will become 80% professional, will have a budget of 2.5 million euros next season (including 500,000 euros for the operation of the amateur association). “We will be among the top 3 National 2 budgets …»

When it comes to infrastructure, the OMR can make people jealous

Also in terms of infrastructure, OMR can arouse a lot of jealousy. “We are very spoiled, recognizes Olivier Gradel. We play at the Villeneuve-d’Ascq stadium, worthy of some Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs.“Currently under renovation, the venue hopes to host the base camp of a team during the 2023 World Cup.And then, in Marcq-en-Barœul, the historic heart of the club, we now have, thanks to the help of the MEL, the Region and the City. (who have invested € 3 million, ND) new facilities: a magnificent clubhouse, seven changing rooms and three fields, including a synthetic one. This allows us to work in exceptional conditions.»

“We work hand in hand with the surrounding clubs and the French High League to create young people. Then you have to be able to keep them. »

Olivier Gradel

With a perfectly framed strategic axis: to encourage local talent. “We work hand in hand with the surrounding clubs and the Hauts-de-France League to raise young people. Then you have to be able to keep them. For the past ten years, every year, between 15 and 20 high-potential children have left the region, approached by the Top 14 and Pro D2 clubs. We can’t stop them from leaving. But if we offer them a quality project, there will be half left to strengthen our base Olivier Gradel hopes.

An asserted regional anchor that awakensthe support of local authorities since the launch of the project. The Métropole Européenne Lilloise (MEL) and the region have supported us from the beginning because they dream of a big rugby club north of Paris on the 5th.e metropolis of France. Our strength is to federate the clubs of the Metropolis (eight in number, editor’s note), but also more widely: Valenciennes, Saint-Omer, Hazebrouck … The higher we go, the more we will attract a large audience, including from BelgiumOlympique Marcquois recently played in the play-offs against Oloron in front of 4,000 fans. A good score for a game of 4e division

An interest in the oval ball that should explode in 2023 “.Lille is lucky to host five World Cup matches. There will be a rugby festival in Republic Square. Thus, we expect to double the number of licensees in the Alts-de-France in the next three years (10,500 today, editor’s note). “Always with this tropism of strong local identity, Olivier Gradel aims to recover”well-known players, bridgeheads in the county“, Remembering that a”Fifty Top 14 and Pro D2 players started rugby in the Alts-de-France“This is the case of the Tolofua brothers, the hooker Christopher (RCT) and the third-line Selevasio (Stade Tolousain), trained in Marcq-en-Barœul.”Maybe we can get them back“The president of the OMR dreams.

The episode of the transfer of Biarritz Olympique to Lille as a “springboard”

The episode of the transfer of Biarritz Olympique to Lille last summer, which would have destroyed the ambitions of Olivier Gradel, is far away. The leader also now evokes this hypothesis as an opportunity. “A trampoline. He alerted us. We were not immune to a takeover bid. It pushed us to speed up our structuring, to create an SA, to set up this fundraiser because, in any project, the nerves of war remain money. Yes, it did push us to question ourselves, to go faster.Was the danger real? He smiles. “I still find it hard to believe in the reality of the project, that this move would have been possible. This would have created a jurisprudence that would have caused a hellish mess. The FFR probably wouldn’t have allowed it because it would have been the door open to everything. But I understand what the shareholders of BO are going through. They put a lot of money, they had made promises of investment returns that were not fulfilled …»

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