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mercato, ambitions, departure from Champagne … President Schaefer confides before PSG

It’s the return of Ligue 1 this weekend, with a first big challenge for Clermont, which hosts PSG (Saturday, 9 p.m.). In an interview with RMC Sport, the president of the Auvergne club, Ahmet Schaefer, talks about the transfer window, the management of the club, the ambitions and the departure of his adviser Jérôme Champagne.

Ahmet Schaefer, after the sale of Mohamed Bayo to Lille, how is your recruitment going?

We have always said, when we give players a promise that they can leave the club in the event of consistent offers, we will do it. This is the case for Mohamed Bayo. We are always in anticipation because we do not have an unlimited budget in Clermont. We had a lot of recruits. These recruits come to bring us French and foreign experience. And on the other hand, you also need stability by keeping Pascal Gastien’s philosophy and style of play.

“It’s the first time we can invest”

With this check from the sale of Bayo, are you better off financially?

This is the first time that we can invest. This philosophy of saying that we only take players at the end of the contract is a little different, we know that. You have to invest, however we know that we cannot make a ticket of 3, 4 or 5 million euros on a player unless it is an exception. We have given ourselves a range in which we navigate with our recruitment unit for our two clubs. Our second club, Austria Lustenau, is now in the Austrian first division, which allows us to have players from abroad.

How is the daily management of your two clubs going?

Through our Swiss holding, there is a lot of work that is done by keeping Clermont at the center of operations. There are people who are responsible for integrating players, supporting players. It’s not always easy when you sign a young French player, if all goes well he can be integrated into a Ligue 1 team in France. It is necessary that during the pivotal years, of two or three years, the player must be well supported and integrated. The game philosophy, the two coaches talking together, there are, and there must be, synergies on and off the pitch.

Does it make you want to buy a third club?

We had a third club in Denmark, it went badly with the former owner. We had to abandon this project. There with two clubs in the first division it already requires a lot of work. We are well served so far. I want to keep our start-up spirit and the spirit of collaboration for the employees of the two clubs.

With CVC money, will you invest in your infrastructure?

Yes, we are creating a new training center. The work on the stadium stand had already been completed before our arrival. For example, the club has also made investments in the training center to move into category 1. There are a lot of projects started and future projects.

Gonalons? “With us, he is a real leader”

How was the recruitment of Maxime Gonalons during the summer?

The stars aligned with him. He wanted a project in France, not far from his home, the opportunity presented itself. The coach knows him well and spoke with him to persuade him that it was the right project for him to relaunch in France. Maxime will also take advantage of this family atmosphere that reigns around the club, in a stable locker room. With us, he is a real leader.

With the four runs at the end of the season, is the transfer window different?

I think we approach it in the same way, what will be important for us is above all to relaunch in December. We are going to set up an internship in Spain with some friendly matches. The objective is simple: keep the rigor and the rhythm. We don’t have 25 players going to Qatar for a month, that’s definitely good news for us. We have to keep the intensity, the desire and the hunger. It will especially be interesting to see how the teams will attack at the end of December after the World Cup. For us the second part of the season will be crucial for maintenance.

Playing against PSG at the start of the season, is it the best time?

It’s the first and last moment of the season at home against Paris. It’s hard to say. This is surely the best time for spectators to start this new season with a sold-out Gabriel-Montpied. As I will tell the players, against these teams, get out there and have fun. We created several surprises last season, there is always something to do. At the end, we also know that it is a very good team in front. Welcoming them to our home is already a remarkable story.

“Gastien remains the cornerstone of our project”

With the departure of Bayo, on paper, is Clermont better armed than last season?

Better armed? Perhaps better experienced with all of our recruiting. We brought athletic elements. I don’t know if we are better equipped at the technical level, but surely at the athletic level. Pascal Gastien remains the cornerstone of our project, he is more of a manager like Wenger or Houllier. It determines the philosophy of the football school to the first team. On all the positions, if players do not come out of the center, we must present him with the profiles he is looking for. We know their needs and requirements.

You announced the departure of your adviser Jérôme Champagne in a press release, why?

In every SME, there are changes after a while. If we were not in football but in another industry, perhaps the media wave would not have been so strong around this departure.

Does it hurt to see his media releases?

I don’t want to talk about this in the media. There are words that have been mentioned in the media like jealousy or ego… The club is above that. The situation has been described rather well in the latest articles that have been published in the last few days. It’s certainly not a one-man-show here. We are still a team in Clermont, we remain hand in hand. My role as president is simply to protect the club.

Interview by Nicolas Pelletier

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