Created in 1911, now a resident of National 2 (7th at the end of the season), the Hyères Football Club is preparing to enter a new dimension thanks to the arrival of Mourad Boudjellal as president and Nicolas Anelka at sports management. But if the supporters start dreaming, the new leaders do not want to rush.
It was barely 9 am when the mayor of Hyères-les-Palmiers, accompanied by his chief of staff, was dropped off at the foot of the Perruc stadium by a black sedan. Jean-Pierre Giran has been in post for 7 years but has been following HFC for much longer. In his office sits a frame of a past meeting between Hyères and OM. “I prefer to keep the score silent. Besides, I put a label under the photo to hide it”, jokes the ex-deputy.
At the end of 2020, Giran received a phone call from the president of Hyères FC, Jean-Pierre Blasco. “He asks me if I want to receive Mourad Boudjellal, they had met and agreed that there was a possibility to take over the club. I listened, I indicated that this reflected the attractiveness of the club and could Outline a promising future for him “, explains the first elected, surprised by the interest of the former president of Rugby Club Toulonnais. “With Mourad Boudjellal there are always surprises, the surprise would be not to have it, he smiles. He had abandoned the projects of Sporting Club Toulon and dismissed the Olympique de Marseille, so why not Hyères, of course in future conditions different from those of OM. “
A 5-star cast
The formalization takes place on February 1 at the town hall of Hyères-les-Palmiers. Mourad Boudjellal becomes the new president of Hyères FC and arrives with a renowned sports director: Nicolas Anelka. “We had knowledge in common, I called him, I explained the project to him and he accepted, says the ex-boss of Var rugby. It takes a lot of humility to come back to the amateur world when we are ‘calls Nicolas Anelka, he is one of the greatest strikers in French football. He wants to transmit, to share his vision of football, it is a challenge for him too. Jean Roch said’ who succeeds in Toulon succeeds in the world ‘. It can also be applied to Hyères and Nicolas Anelka is aware of it. “
At the head of the club for a month, the two men have already worked on many aspects. If the idea of a new stadium in Hyères is in the minds, the recruitment of new players has already been launched. “The National 2 is atypical. You need calibrated players who are not surprised by this championship, guys who know where they are going. I have the firm conviction that if you put Ronaldo in N2, he will make 30 minutes in the field and the rest in the hospital. ” The players in place will therefore have to expect stiff competition from next season, which is obvious to captain and goalkeeper Jérôme Scolan. “It’s normal, competition is part of sport, philosopher the ex-porter of Clermont-Ferrand. The club has been evolving for a while now and this is still something else. Nicolas Anelka has a grandiose track record, Mourad Boudjellal has successful in the professional world, that can only make you want to succeed. The club will enter another dimension. But not immediately, we will have to wait. ”
Boudjellal: “I am not planning to play in the Champions League, I am lucid”
Patience is also what Mayor Jean-Pierre Giran is asking for. “I don’t know if Mr. Boudjellal is a mountain dweller but he has to learn to be one if he is not. We have to go. step by step, once it’s solid we continue. If we want to reach the peaks suddenly, we risk missing the step. “And that’s good, the president seems to have (become?) Mountain dweller.” We have ambitions: to have one of the biggest budgets in the championship, to have big sponsors , beautiful structures, a great team and give yourself the right to dream, details Boudjellal. I find out, I know I’m going to be hazed. We must take the time to build this club. I will do everything to succeed but I do not plan to play the Champions League, I am lucid, I think that PSG will win it before us. (He thinks) Although not sure… In any case, if the championship resumes and we go up this season it’s catastrophic because we are not at all ready. “
The next opponents of Hyères FC, them, will be, because motivated by the desire to bring down the new big fish of N2. With this five-star cast, the Hyérois will be expected. Lilian Compan, former player of Saint-Etienne and Caen, club coach for three years, is aware of this. “We have ideas, experience and we do not want to copy what is done elsewhere, he confides. It is a new era, a new project which begins. The club will discover this professional world little by little. small and you’re going to have to live up to it. ”
“Stars in the eyes” of supporters
The supporters, meanwhile, could not ask for better. Clément is 22, dressed in the club’s blue tracksuit and fed with HFC by his parents. He still has trouble believing it. “When it started to appear in the press, we all had stars in our eyes, me, my family, my friends… It’s something grandiose, he says. card, not only in France but also abroad, it is beneficial for everyone and us supporters, it allows us to dream. “
On the media level, requests are indeed pouring in, from France but not only. “It’s crazy, says Steven Billières, communication manager of the club and employee at the town hall in the youth service. We have a lot of requests, it’s super interesting to live. We even received a request from the Daily Mail for a report and interviews with Mourad Boudjellal and Nicolas Anelka, who left a big mark in England. ” The same enthusiasm among the club’s partners.
Jonathan is in charge of the VIPizz restaurant, a pizzeria in the center of Hyères: “The club is already on a good rise, it will be able to explode a little more, it’s only good. We are a small town but despite everything we have a club which is apparently worth it. It will be able to take off with people like that, “he predicts, far from being worried about a possible drop in pizza consumption if the club were to become professional. “They couldn’t do without them, they’re too good (laughs). But hey, they have to run anyway!” A stone’s throw from the stadium, Sébastien, another partner and manager of the Laverie des Palmiers, is enthusiastic. “Mourad Boudjellal’s ambitions are limitless, we can expect anything. There is a Hyères craze, all it takes is a spark to ignite everything,” he observes. Before praising Nicolas Anelka: “It’s an exceptional chance to have him in our town. If he can come and wash his car here? Let him come, we will welcome him with great pleasure.”
Boudjellal-Anelka vs Jean Tigana: the Var derby
If a date is regularly checked by supporters at the very beginning of the season, more than any other meeting, it is the derby. For Hyères, it concerns the opposition against the neighbor Toulon, and the Var rivalry should be in the spotlight this season because if the Boudjellal-Anelka tandem arrived in Hyères to build an ambitious club, the Sporting Club Toulon is attached to him the services of another big name in French football, Jean Tigana.
On February 22, the Toulon club announced the signing of the former French international and Monegasque coach, with whom he had been in discussion since the end of December, as general manager. For Mourad Boudjellal, there is no question of talking about rivalry. “You have on one side Toulon, the club of a city of 170,000 inhabitants, leader of the department, which should be in Ligue 1 and on the other Hyères, 60,000 inhabitants, an anomaly in N2 because the club should be much more We are starting from very far, we will try to work miracles. If we can climb a step up we will do it, but I think Toulon will already be far by then. ” “It’s a derby and like any derby there will be passion,” however, advises the coach Lilian Compan, acquainted with Nicolas Anelka from the French youth teams. “These two projects will inevitably bring more visibility to the N2 championship. In our group, there are big teams, not only us and Toulon. As a Var, it is illogical that there is no club professional in the department, one is missing. Who will be? I do not know, the future will tell… But if it is necessary to choose, the HFC above all. “