Hey, here’s one: How many Lapland-based consortiums does it take to take over a French football club?
I don’t know but this is beyond a fucking joke now, isn’t it. I honestly just want the club’s (And by extension, my) future sorted one way or another. I’ll admit that that wasn’t my best punchline.
Adama Ba should be back in time for our penultimate and ultimate games as it turns out that the injury he picked up against Ardennes is just a thigh strain. He’ll be racing against the clock to be fit to start though.
Speaking of our final 2 matches, they do still matter. Bourg-en-Bresse got thrashed in their game in hand against La Berrichonne, meaning that we’re still just 1 point behind them. If only we hadn’t fluffed the Ardennes game we’d be 2 points ahead. My point is that the race is still on, but we need to stop dropping points.
Hicham Aidir continues to win the plaudits, this time voted 3rd in the Player of the month just behind Reims’ Maxime Lopez and painfully, Ardennes’ Andrew Collins. It’s been a good month for Hicham but he’s not even been firing at 100%. More than anybody I need him to show up if we’re going to keep our title hopes alive.
Surprisingly Ardennes don’t get any inclusions in the Team of the Week, but Phil’s in there after his admittedly very nice consolation goal.
We’ve left ourselves with a lot to do today and that’s not ideal, because an away tie against 4th placed Angers is by no means a good opportunity to pick up points. They’re a tough side and I’d rather we’d taken our easier chances to pick up more wins, but here we are.
Project: Meatloaf hasn’t been going well for us lately so we’re lining up with our safer, counter attacking Project: Meatloaf Mk II for this one. Ba makes it back to fitness in time to come in for Zoun, while Aguilar and Sissako replace Hikem and Fomba. Come on lads. This time. Please.
Nothing happens. Nothing at all. It’s one of those matches where I’m so bored that I want to tear it all up and make boat loads of changes halfway through, but simultaneously I don’t want to change for the sake of it and open ourselves up for Angers to sneak a winner. After an hour I bring off Foden for Zoun so he can run at their tiring defence, but nothing.
And then like a sudden brilliant ray of light, we get a chance in the 92nd minute. Hicham Aidir carries the ball down the right wing as the travelling fans scream encouragement. He switches it across to Ba and runs for the box. Ba returns the favour and plays it back in for the striker, who shoots for the far bottom corner… Mika makes a fantastic fingertip save to deny us. 0-0 it ends.
Miraculously, Bourg can only draw themselves against Valenciennes and despite our best efforts we’re still in with a chance of the title. It’s embarrassing really. We’re like the child racing an adult who’s slowed down right at the finish line so as not to hurt our fragile pride.
The mood on the AJA team bus ride the following day is dour. Results are taking their toll on the squad’s confidence. The wind’s been knocked out of them after just 1 win over relegated Strasbourg in our last 4 matches. The Centre de Formation car park is usually near deserted the day after match day but as we pull in I notice a fair few unfamiliar vehicles. We park and I make my way towards the entrance to see a large, square-jawed man walking out to greet me.
“Ah, Franjo! At least we meet.” He holds out a large hand. I wince at the corniness of his greeting but shake his hand all the same. “Dennis Sundberg,” Says the large man, gesturing vaguely towards himself. “I’m your new Chairman.”
“Thank fuck for that!” I laugh. Sundberg doesn’t.
We make our way inside and I have my first meeting with the new Chairman of Auxerre. At first I’m happy that the endless drama of the impending takeover is done, but my smile fades as more and more details of the deal come to light.
Sundberg is investing no money into the club but he has taken out a £5M bank loan to keep us going. After a year in which money has been pouring out of the club like someone left the financial tap on, this loan gives us a balance of £1M to prepare for life in Ligue 1.
He’s already started to cut ties with our affiliates and he may float the club on the stock market, which would mean paying out dividends using some of the club’s already very questionably named “Profits”. I am genuinely worried.