9 years without Ligue 1, 9 years of emotional rollercoasters

We look back over a chain of events that no other team in Europe, and perhaps in the world, has ever experienced.

Period 1 (2008–2011)

May 2008: Relegation to Ligue 2 after a record-breaking series of 11 straight defeats. Little did we know that we would be out of the elite for 9 years, a period three times longer than our previous record (3 years between 1989 and 1992). Sadness.

October 2008: 7 wins, 2 draws, 0 losses. 19 goals scored, 7 goals conceded. Racing are running riot over Ligue 2. Hope.

May 2009: On the last day of the league season, Racing only need a draw at the Stade de la Mosson to gain promotion to Ligue 1. We lose 2–1 to Montpellier, who pip us to a top-three place. Dismay.

Ligue 2, 2008–09 final league table.

December 2009: The arrival of a new major shareholder at a club on its last legs is welcomed with goodwill, followed quickly by doubts about the shady profile of the new owner. Concern.

May 2010: Defeat at Châteauroux sends Racing down to National for the first time ever and puts an end to an erratic season behind the scenes, which included 5 chairmen in 8 months. Anger.

The post-match scenes in the away end at Châteauroux. Credit: racingstub.com

October 2010: Organisational chaos reigns over the club. Offended by jeers, the owner tries to divide the supporters and decides to close the kop for 3 matches, unsuccessfully. This declaration of war is met with self-control in order to protect the club. Determination.

May 2011: The club fails in its aim of getting back into Ligue 2 but that doesn’t stop the party at the Meinau. Despite the owner’s scorched earth policy, a fabulous communion takes place between the fans and the team: Racing proves that it can survive even the worst difficulties. Resilience.

Period 2 (2011–2014)

August 2011: Tens of supporters volunteer to clean up the Meinau, which hadn’t been looked after in months. Despite the bankruptcy and the relegation to CFA2, the passion didn’t go away and the tidy-up was lifesaving. Enthusiasm.

September 2011: After losing our professional status, the possibility of leaving the stadium is brought up. But the club’s popularity, largely unrelated to the results, means that in the end the matches are kept there despite the cost. 9,813 supporters turn up to the first-ever 5th division match at the Meinau. Calmness.

Written on the ticket to Racing’s first home game in CFA2: “I, supporter, put down the first stone of Racing’s reconstruction”. Credit: Fédération des Supporters du Racing Club de Strasbourg

March 2012: In CFA2, one of the more memorable matches takes place in Schiltigheim, on the suburbs of Strasbourg. The journey there was made… on the tram. A few weeks earlier, Racing had gone to the department of Yonne to face Auxerre III, the reserves’ reserve team… That’s French “non-league” football, so to speak, and the most loyal fans make do with it. The most important thing is to follow Racing! Invigoration.

May 2012: As promotion to CFA gradually takes shape, further conspiracies continue behind the scenes, endangering the reconstruction project. The arrival of Marc Keller as chairman would put an end to the disagreements. Fatigue.

September 2012: The club’s badge and name are modified upon the request of the local government who had come to Racing’s financial aid. This was despite opposition from associations who stayed loyal to the institution and who were gathered around what could not be taken away: the passion and the heritage of the club. Irritation.

April 2013: One early Wednesday evening, Racing fall apart at the Meinau against AS Moulins, losing 4–0 in front of 6,600 spectators. Promotion to National would now be a miracle. Dejection.

June 2013: After an unlikely series of wins, Racing make up the ground on the leaders, US Raon-l’Étape, and beat them on the last day at a neutral venue to gain promotion to National, in a match full of twists and turns. Pride.

April 2014: The transition between the amateur leagues and the semi-professional National isn’t going well. The decline of important players and problems in the changing room send Racing towards the bottom of the table. Defeat at the Meinau in the derby against Colmar puts an end to all hope of survival. Disenchantment.

Period 3 (2014–2017)

July 2014: The financial difficulties of several clubs, including Luzenac, have been keeping hope alive of an administrative reprieve back into National for the past two months. After an endless wait and confidence that fluctuated with every new development in the case, the good news comes on the 15th July. Relief.

Despite finishing in the bottom four, Strasbourg and Colomiers obtained reprieves due to Luzenac and Carquefou’s administrative relegations.

December 2014: We get a taste of the professional world again thanks to the Coupe de France, with a trip to the Stade Bonal to take on FC Sochaux of Ligue 2. Despite the date — a Monday night due to the match being shown on TV — 750 Alsatians have a party there for 90 minutes as Racing deservedly go through despite the difference in level. Nostalgia.

May 2015: The team sets up a promotion-deciding match for a place in Ligue 2 on the last day. The match is won but, despite a mad rumour about scores elsewhere that sent 26,723 spectators wild for a few minutes, there are no miracles in the other games: Strasbourg fall just short of the top three. Frustration.

October 2015: After a sluggish start to the season, the team climbs into the top three. Racing go to Châteauroux’s Stade Gaston Petit for the first time since May 2010, when the club had sunk into National: we win 1–0. Could it be fate? Eagerness.

May 2016: At an excited Meinau, the team, unbeaten in the last 25 home matches, only needs a point against Amiens to guarantee a top-three finish. With seconds separating them from Ligue 2, a harmless ball ends its slow and unlikely path in the back of Strasbourg’s net. The light of thousands of supporters is immediately put out. Knock-out.

May 2016: At Belfort, 1,740 days (4 years, 9 months and 5 days) after going bankrupt, Racing celebrate their return to the professional world for good this time. The pitch invasion and the spontaneous communion with the players mark the happy ending of an era that saw the club come back from nowhere. Immortals.

The pitch invasion at Belfort. Credit: Fédération des Supporters du Racing Club de Strasbourg

June 2016: Following numerous discussions, a compromise is finally found regarding the club’s badge, with the return of “RCS” to the centre of the logo. Satisfaction.

August 2016: Being too cramped in the north-west corner of the stadium, the kop moves to the Tribune Ouest, behind one of the goals. From the first match onwards, the attendance and participation levels largely surpass even the most optimistic predictions. The popular stand is born and livens up the Meinau all season long. Excitement.

The tifo displayed by the Tribune Ouest kop at the first home game of the 2016–17 season. Credit: RC Strasbourg Alsace

May 2017: 1,800 Strasbourg fans at Lens! Except for cup finals and matches close to Strasbourg, never had so many RCS supporters travelled for a match, let alone on a Monday night. The players live up to this record and take a point that keeps RCL at a safe distance in the table. Euphoria.

May 2017: On the last day of the league season, we need to win to be promoted to Ligue 1. We win 2–1 and finish as champions to boot. Racing finds its place back in the elite after nine unimaginable years… bring it on! Happiness.

Racing are crowned champions of Ligue 2, ending a 9-year absence from France’s top flight. Credit: RC Strasbourg Alsace

Translated from:
https://www.facebook.com/fsrcs/photos/a.192774774129791.47154.153117698095499/1495523897188199/?type=3&theater (Period 1, 2008–2011)

https://www.facebook.com/fsrcs/photos/a.192774774129791.47154.153117698095499/1495583370515585/?type=3&theater (Period 2, 2011–2014)

https://www.facebook.com/fsrcs/photos/a.192774774129791.47154.153117698095499/1497745380299384/?type=3&theater (Period 3, 2014–2017)