FACTS OF THE DAY A new lawn for OAC, which aims to reconnect with its glorious past

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Jérémy Balmy’s technique (from behind) will be expressed even more in Pibarot’s new turf. (Photo by Corentin Migoule)

With six days left, Agathois is ten points ahead of the runner-up, Olympique d’Alès en Cévennes (OAC) will soon achieve their goal: to get to the National 2. Players, managers and fans of the club will no doubt appreciate the rehabilitation of Pibarot turf registered by a municipality determined to support this return to the grace of the round ball in Cévennes.

Irresistible away from home since the start of the season (9 wins, 1 draw), OAC having lost just three times in 20 days, has done this every time at home (won at Rodez II, Agde and Narbonne Pibarot). The defeats, which the press (often) and players (sometimes) pointed out (sometimes) the state of the Alesian field, later on, are flawed to say the least. And instead of saying “the floor is the same for both teams”, it’s a bit more of a handicap for the individual picking the game.

This is often the case for the men in Stéphane Saurat’s lairs who start every meeting with the status of favorite and team to beat. In this context, and while opponents of the Blues often prefer to drop the skin to play against them, the undeniable technical qualities of Jérémy Balmy, Lucas Franco and others often met false rebounds from Pibarot’s green rectangle. For a long time it looked like a pool table.

Grass cost: 500,000 Euros

The leaders of Cévennes put themselves under more pressure during the winter months, perhaps fearing that their leading position in the standings would decline and the climb would elude them, so the municipality, which owns the stadium, took up the matter. . Christophe Rivenq, first deputy mayor of Alerted, Alès, responded positively to Oaciens’ requests by integrating the repair of Pibarot turf into the community budget.

And if for a while a hybrid lawn was considered, this option was quickly rejected, it was considered too expensive. “All the research has shown that the maintenance of this type of surface is complex and very expensive, as it costs 300,000 euros a year.”warns the last name that finally decides for a traditional lawn. “Tender calls continue. We will start work as soon as possible.”in this dossier alerts the head of Alès Agglomeration, who is responsible for the project management, as having joint mandate with the City that will finance it (cost estimated 500.000 Euro).

The prospect of first team promotion to the next level has never been more tangible, but Christophe Rivenq rejects a rehabilitation hypothesis that was initiated solely on the basis of exciting sporting results: “There comes a time when the lawn has to be rebuilt, especially when there are mushrooms. We decided to change it a while ago, mounted or not, good results surely speed things up. »

30 years later

Nearly 30 years after it was completely rebuilt for the Mediterranean Games in 1993, the lawns at La Prairie will therefore be renewed in the summer. This clearly pleases Alesian supporters, with Laurent Ivaldi in the lead. “The town hall gives a strong signal when we know the cost it represents for a municipality of 40,000 inhabitants”expressed on the set. good evening gard In an argument against Jérôme Arpinon.

Philippe Mallaroni, managing director of the OAC, also welcomes the news, as he has long campaigned for the restoration of the Pibarot meadows: “You can imagine friendly gala games being organized to throw a great football party on a beautiful lawn. Until now, it seemed very difficult to me. New opportunities are ahead of us! »

Sporting director Jean-Marie Pasqualetti Pragmatic sees this above all as a way to respond to a constraint: “It’s always more enjoyable to play on a nice lawn, but beyond knowing if we’re going to change our game philosophy, you should know that as we level up, the more the authorities need football in terms of specification for grass stands.”

An inevitable displacement

An explanation that is important when we know that the Oacians will have to go into exile from time to time. Indeed, the construction site at the Pierre-Pibarot stadium, which is expected to launch in July, should make the new turf impassable until the onset of winter. “Inevitably, for the first four or five home games of the season, a relocation option will have to be chosen. As long as we want a new turf, it’s a constraint we’re happy to have to face.”Puts Philippe Mallaroni in perspective.

Therefore, if, by unknown tragedy, the OAC did not rise at the end of the season, Cévennes would have the possibility to start the 2022/2023 exercise at the synthetic Saint-Jean-du-Pin in 2022/2023. National 3. However, the lighting of the Plaine de Plos stadium will force the club to schedule their home games during the day. On the other hand, in the most plausible move to National 2 to date, Oaciens would have had to start the season elsewhere outside of Alès, as there is no other stadium in the city where Pibarot is just. is authorized to host sporting events of this level. As I write these lines, the Pautex stadium in Uzès seems to be holding the rope to meet the “exiles”, but the Alesian administration prefers to ensure it. “Finish the job in the league”specifies “nothing was fixed”.

Once replaced, the alesia green rectangle will need to be preserved if it desires the same longevity as its predecessor. To maintain that before the matches, the club’s first team will have to consider going elsewhere during the week. “Pibarot is the first step. In addition, the idea of ​​the municipality needs to perfect all the fields of the city in the long run so that we can train in good conditions.”therefore it activates Jean-Marie Pasqualetti.

OAC will soon be 100 years old

It’s all in its own time, but the idea will no doubt take its toll as local elected officials increasingly come to mind to fill the stands on game nights. No doubt a sign of renewed appeal for OAC. In any case, this is what Laurent Ivaldi, member of the Kop cévenol legacy believes: “We lived through the desert of the 2003 bankruptcy filing. We’ve lost generations of fans in this 20-year purgatory. But it has gotten better since the club announced an ambitious project two years ago. (Cap 2024, editor’s note) It consists of placing the OAC in the National within two years. »

And while we will certainly never again see 17,000 people invest in the hills of La Prairie to encourage Cévennes, the OAC will celebrate its 100th anniversary, as was the case with the French Cup semi-final between Alès and Bordeaux in 1987. next year, Pibarot has more possibilities to fill the grandstand (3,800 seats) than this season. With the good weather coming and the health card disappearing for a few weeks, the final three meetings to play at home are plenty of opportunities to play, pushing the Blues towards the upside. “Football is a team sport. I usually say that it’s the public good that everyone takes some ownership of. It is not in vain that the fans say “we won”. Everyone goes their own way, and the fans, of course, are important.‘ Philippe Mallaroni concludes with an invitation.

Corentin Migoule