The Emirates cup: The curious history of Saturday’s opponent – Lyon

By Walter Broeckx

Pre-season looks extremely short this season. All that because of the fact that at the end of next season we face another tournament from some corrupt organization in order to injure as many players as possible or get them injured in the months after. And in fact our next opponent has a big link with this tournament also known as the European Championship.

It is time for the Emirates cup and the first team we will play is Olympic Lyon.

Olympic Lyon was founded in 1899 so is a bit younger than Arsenal. It has a rather strange history when we look at it from the trophy side of things. They won a few French cups in the sixties, one in the seventies and that was it. It took them 65 years to win their first major national trophy in 1964. One could say they were a cup team.

But then since 2002 something changed. In 2002 they became champions for the first time in their history. So it took them 103 years before they could win the French title. As you can imagine this was a huge celebration in the capital of the Rhône valley.

Hey, let’s have some more of this will have been the thought around Lyon I can imagine. And they had some more of this. Lyon turned the French league in the most boring league in history. Going from never won it in 103 years then went on to win the French League 7 consecutive times after that first win. That amazing and probably never repeated win in any other country (I stand corrected if it has) ended with a last win in 2008.

It was as if they had saved all the titles and won them in one run as most clubs spread it around their history a bit. But they didn’t fall away a lot as they still were almost always in the top 3 after that run.

They play their home matches at the Stade de Gerland, named to the local place where it is situated. Not far from the river Rhône and not far from the Autoroute du Soleil (Highway to the sun) in the heart of the city. The current stadium only has a capacity of 41,184 seats. It used to have more places but that was the result of turning it in to an all seater stadium for the World cup in 1998.

Now what stopped Lyon from winning titles one could ask. And I don’t really have a clue apart from their stadium. Because in 2007 the board of Lyon decided that their old stadium was too small and that they needed a new stadium.

Ah, new stadiums cost money and ….cost results. A thing we Arsenal supporters are familiar with. Let’s build a new one they said. But that was easier said than done. But as I can testify myself the new stadium is under construction.

Last summer when I went on holiday I didn’t drive through the tunnels that take the Autoroute du Soleil in and through the heart of the city but went to the ring road to the East side of Lyon mostly because we had booked a hotel in that part to stay for the night. And just a few kilometres before we would stay the night I drove past the new stadium that they are building. A modern football stadium from the ‘Emirates type’ of stadium one could say. It sure looked impressive looking at it driving on the highway (so I didn’t really kept on looking of course).

The stadium will hold 59500 seats when it is finished and will be holding also other buildings like museums, a sports clinic and offices. According to sources I have seen there is a lot of public money going in to building the stadium. 240M euros I have read comes from public money and the rest is paid for by the club itself. The total cost will be around 450M euros so comparable to the Emirates. One could say almost half of the money is public money. That may sound strange to you but this is not uncommon in France as the government pays for a lot of good sports infrastructure. And with world cups and European championships being organised in France in the next years they have a good excuse of helping the clubs to build or rebuild their stadiums in order to be in line with the new regulations.

And Arsenal building the Emirates all on their own…. Amazing isn’t it? But even for a club like Lyon it has caused the end of their historical run of 7 French titles. The stadium should be finished around December 2015 or January 2016 and it better be as on 13 June 2016 the stadium will host a match for the European championship. It will also host a semi-final by the way. As I am again going to the South of France early September I will be able to see how the stadium looks now it ends its completion.

Last season Lyon finished in second place in the French league. 8 points behind PSG who plays in a different money league and 4 points in front of Monaco. And by finishing second they won automatic promotion for the champions league. So they will be around in the champions league when the draw is made and might be one of the teams we could meet.

Top players last season were Alexandre Lacazette who has been heavily linked with Arsenal and who was their top scorer in the last two seasons. Two seasons ago with 22 goals in 54 matches in total and last season with 31 goals in 38 matches. 27 goals of those 31 were in the French league. He only played 33 matches because of an injury in January that cost him a few matches. He was voted best player in the French league last season.  So he is one of the players to watch.

The Untold Banner at the Emirates


33 Replies to “The Emirates cup: The curious history of Saturday’s opponent – Lyon”

  1. Couple of extra bits about Lyon. All those title wins in a row came under three different managers:

    Paul Le Guen July 1, 2002–June 30, 2005
    Gérard Houllier July 1, 2005–May 25, 2007
    Alain Perrin July 1, 2007–June 16, 2008

    In the stadium building phase since then one of the managers has been Remi Garde (2011 to 2014) who you will of course recall and who has been talked of as a possible successor to Arsene Wenger.

    In 2015 there was talk of Remi going to Newcastle, but he turned the opportunity down. I don’t think he has been working in the past year… but I expect him to return sometime soon.

  2. Wouldn’t be a PR coup if Alexandre Lacazette were to start the game for Lyon , sign for Arsenal at half time and then come on as a substitute in the 70 minute ?
    Well for one , AW does not send on his subs before the 70th minute ,so why break the trend ?
    This will of course give time for Ivan or whoever for that normal mad dash across London to the League (or FA ?) offices to register him.

  3. Brickfields Gunners

    I was thinking that Lacazette may just not return with Lyon but your idea is cool too. 🙂

    On the other hand i think Arsenal should just go for Lewandowski if he is interested, no ifs no buts just get him as i think Ronaldo is going to end up at Manu and Benzema would not be leaving Real then. Unless Ronaldo and his coach are just laying down (vapour) rumours too. If we wait until last moment we may not get anybody this time, as too many are looking for the same type of player we want.

    But what do i know.

  4. I think we can look forward to a nice football game – and one that we come out on top!

  5. Thanks Walter.

    A refereeing tidbit for you. Costa Rico has mad an official complaint to CONCACAF about officiating at the Gold Cup. They have named 5 referees who they never want to see officiating a Costa Rico game in the future.

    A moment to check before hitting “Post Comment”. New story up, confirming that Szczesny to Roma loan is nearly complete. Paperwork not finished, and a medical hasn’t been done yet.

    The Guardian has a nice interview with Aaron Ramsey, starting with his recent charity golf tournament and World Wildlife Fund support, and moving on to family and football.

    It was nice to see news that Diaby may have a team to play for (West Brom, if you can believe the medja). In the news today, Ryo Miyaichi has apparently been hurt paying for St, Pauli and went in for knee surgery. Torn ACL. Lansbury is in the news, apparently moving to Burnley.

    I guess one of the Nevilles was surprised by the 200 million pounds story. He probably can’t think of a two foot tackler that would cost anywhere near that much.

  6. Will Lyons new stadium include ‘The Lyon Experience’ where you queue for years and then get the whole tour crammed into 5 minutes?

  7. @Gord

    CONCACAF refereeing has always been suspect…OK…more than suspect. It makes EPL refereeing seem downright legitimate. The problem is that it is so widespread that nobody knows where to start and it is only now that there are 2 or maybe 3 solid sides (Mexico, US and Costa Rica?) that people are starting to take the issue seriously.

  8. para
    quite interesting is AW’s comments on says that if he can find goals from outside he will do it as we need to score 10 more goals than we managed last time. I wonder where it al leads us to.

  9. Gord,

    I saw that as well. I was at Borehamwood last evening for the Ladies game v Watford and without rain the pitch was fine. I really do think that if Arsenal are going to keep using the Meadow Park ground then they need to assist BorehamWood with a major pitch upgrade as it is very prone to waterlogging. The Ladies are scheduled for a Sunday afternoon game there and that must now also be at risk.

    Last winter there were a number of U21 games that were postponed at short notice, one cup game ended up at Brentford after being called off twice at Borehamwood.

  10. It’s good you seen the postponement before driving to the game.

    Not much danger of games being rained out on the Canadian prairies, big stretches are either very dry or in drought. Grass gets really crunchy. I think GoingGoingGooner is in Calgary, they had a tornado the other day, and some places seen tennis ball sized hail.

    I wasted some time looking for the “Lyon Experience” on the Internet. I ran across a website which ranks ice hockey teams, and apparently there is an ice hockey team in Lyon. And I guess many roads around Lyon have been blocked lately by farmers protests.

  11. Walter,

    respectufully I muss say I think you missed one piece of the puzzle

    What happened to Lyon we have seen happen in the Premier League. $Oil$Money.

    PSG was taken over by the petrodollars and from then on Lyon who was dominating not only on the sports side but on the financial side (and decent management side) were gone.

    I believe the stadium decision has to do with the 2016 European Championship next year but that was awarded after 2008.

    On the other hand PSG getting an unlimited budget on purchases pretty much blew apart any finncial competition in France.

    Monaco had some means when it’s russian owner was on top of his game, but apaprently his divorce has made football more expensive, so budgets have tightened there and PSG are in a (financial) league of their own.

  12. @ Gord
    Hi Gord where in Canada are you? On Wednesday I met someone from Edmonton. So I am curious as to where in Canada you are.

  13. I’m NW of Edmonton, about 4.5 hours of driving.

    Lots of cities have about 1 million people, Edmonton is unusual in that it has a huge metropolitan district (probability of people working in Edmonton being 30% or higher). To the west, it goes probably about 80 minutes driving time.

  14. Yes, we get our share of winter. I’m at the S side of the watershed of the Peace River, which is a large agricultural area. The “Peace Region” is about the size of Germany, and has about 150,000 people. Lots of grain farming, lots of hay growing, lots of cattle, lots of bees.

    But we do get warm. We’ve had quite a few days of +30C or so, at the moment it is +20C.

    If you like heat, the Okanogan of British Columbia is nice. Osoyoos at the south end, flirts with +40C quite often. They grow a lot of fruit in that region.

  15. I looked up numbers to go with the “Edmonton area is big”. Greater London has a lot more people at 8.1 million over 1572 km^2. Edmonton Capital Region has a population of 1.1 million over 9427 km^2.

    Calgary (that other big city in Alberta) has 1.2 million people in 5108 km^2.

  16. Rolf,
    as we have said before on Untold: any organisation that keeps being part of FIFA, who is a corrupt organisation, has also dirty hands and supports the corruption from FIFA. This includes all the football organisations of all countries also.
    If Uefa would pull out of FIFA then I can consider them free from proven corruption. Of course you can still believe FIFA is holier than the pope in Rome or than God himself but well I don’t believe that at all. And judging the way some justice departments are doing their job (finally) I am not the only one.

    In a way I am guilty of supporting corruption also as I am a member of the football authorities in my country and thus in fact I am one of the people who falls under the regulations of FIFA at the end of the day. So I’m alos corrupt or supporting it one could say

  17. I expect to see the man from Edmonton again. When I do I will ask for more info on his Edmonton.

  18. We just like driving I guess.

    Greater London, if it was a circle, would be about 45 km across.

    Edmonton Capital Region, if it was a circle, is almost 110 km across.

    When I was living in Edmonton, I played football for a German team on the NW corner of the city proper (not the NW of the Capital Region). One of the players on the team lived close to the SE corner of the Capital Region, so he probably drove 60km (straight-line, not road) for games. Another guy on the team lived almost a 2 hour drive NW of Edmonton.

    Where are you from Colario?

    Heck, some of the Gooners here don’t live in big places. I don’t think Brickfields lives in a big place. We had a few people living in Singapore, Wikipedia says Singapore is 718 km^2 and 5.5 million people.

    The “centre of the universe” (Toronto) has a population of 6.1 million in 7124 km^2.

    I wonder if there are Gooners on Untold from Mexico City? It looks like it is about the same area as Edmonton Capital Region, with 22.5 million people.

  19. Sorry for butting in guys, but I’m still trying to imagine a place as big as Germany with only 150,000 people living in it!!!!
    Wow, what bliss. You’re a lucky man Gord, many of us in densely populated urban areas would envy envy you your open space.

  20. I see no reason to apologize Dec. The world is full of different places and people, and it helps to know about this.

    My family had a farm when I was going to university that was 6210 acres (just shy of 10 square miles). I worked the farm as a summer job in university. There are lots of farms up here in the 10,000 to 15,000 acre range. The distribution is actually bimodal, I think there is another peak at about 1.25 square miles, which would be the original population of family farms.

    We have about 6 months of winter per year. Spring and fall are typically a couple of weeks each (3?). Lots of people like seeing the leaves change colour, we may start seeing leaves change colour at the end of August, running up to end of October. But there will be some varieties of trees devoid of leaves (all changed colour and fell off) by one week into September. We can’t plant gardens outside before the last weekend of May, because of the chance of killing frosts and snowfalls. In the fall, we can start seeing frost problems mid-September. But in that brief summer, we can get above +30C.

    Because of the cold winter, we have few problems with insects, snakes and what not.

    While I am living in Grande Prairie now, I went to high school in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Which is only another 1.5 hours drive from here (and we still have land there). Dawson Creek is where the Alaska Highway begins. The coldest I remember in high school was -45C at the house, -54C in downtown Dawson Creek, and in 2 outlying communities 20 miles away, it was -64C. We lived a little more than 1 mile south of town, and I hated the bus driver, so I walked to school. Good footwear was a must. But, I enjoyed walking in ice fog (the sky was filled with prisms), and in the cold, the power lines used to sing (because of the cold they contracted and became tight).

    And even though our population density is so low, it is easy to go out in in the wilderness, and find damage done by 4×4 trucks, all terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, or even just too many people walking on the same path.

    Macleans (a magazine in Canada) recently had an article about small communities all across Canada, selling land for really cheap, just to try and get a population base that will sustain a certain level of service. I think there was a place in Manitoba that you could get land big enough to build a house on, for $100.

    But the country is so darned big, it is hard to make football work as a sport.

  21. Hi Gord. My curiosity picked up when I read in your post that GoingGoingGooner lives in Calgary.

    On Wednesday morning I read an email with some quotes from one, Marshall McLuhan, 1911 – 1980 of Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

    Lunch time I was tucking in to my pizza when a group of people walked in talking English. I helped resolve the translation problem then chatted with the leader. Imagine my surprise when he said that he was from Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

    He is now living about 30 miles from where I live so I expect to see him again.

    I now live in Romania. But I was dragged up about 3 miles from Highbury.

  22. Gord, modern instant global communications must give you the best of all worlds. I’ll say again – what bliss!
    Canada, Romania, Singapore and probably unpteen other parts of the globe, Gooners and even Untolders are everywhere. The recent reception the team got in Aisia proves how popular the club is. Just put me to think, it might be an interesting topic to explore just how supporters/Untolders in far flung parts became Arsenal fans.
    Colario, living beside Highbury at an early stage probably sealed your fate as an Arsenal fan, even though you then move to the other side of the continent you don’t loose it .
    I’m sure there are many interesting stories out there about why Arsenal? (Tony??????)

    I’m feeling positively local being from just next door in Ireland. As a kid I just wanted to be different and didn’t want to follow the flock to ManU or Liverpool.
    My fate was eventually sealed with the emergence of Brady/Stapleton/O’Leary/Devine/Rice/Nelson etc..
    Thinking differently can have it’s benefits sometimes 🙂 although it didn’t feel too clever in the seventies!!

  23. Near the top of my ‘motor bike’ bucket list is a drive up the NW corner of the Americas.
    One day……

  24. Lots of people from the continental US fancy saying they’ve been to Alaska, but it is a long road from Dawson Creek to Alaska. So they cheat, they go to Stewart BC (which is not even as far north as Dawson Creek) and then go to the very south end of the Alaskan panhandle and Hyder, Alaska.

    One of the old timers around the German club I played for, was Romanian. I’ve played with and against players from various places in the Balkans, many still have family there. My Mom’s family were Germans in the Ukraine from near Zhytomir on the way to Kyiv.

  25. Not to mention Romanian fans that live in Seattle;) I’m from Constanta, second largest city in Romania, albeit by a big margin, to Bucharest, home of the greatest footballer in Romania’s history, Gheorghe Hagi. But, I’ve been spending my last 9 years near Seattle, where the “little startup from Redmond” (employer of 90000 people at some point) brought me to work for them. I’ve only passed through Edmonton once, stationed in the airport on my way to London, but the guy that hired me was from Edmonton. There seems to be a great car racing tradition there – and Gord’s details explain it.

  26. Well said Walter. UEFA have done nothing whatsoever to dissociate themselves from a corrupt organisation. The head of the European body voted for Qatar to host the World Cup, there is no good footballing reason whatsoever to make such a vote, so you have to won spider as to his motives and agenda. Platini sat in the same room as Blatter and co for years, he knew exactly what was going on, he should not be allowed to succeed Blatter.
    Back on topic, very interesting read, especially with the comparisons with Arsenal. Cannot believe Garde is not working?

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