15 August 2012 14:22
In a bold move to rival Paris Saint-Germain’s big spending, Lille have unveiled their new 282 million-euro stadium for the new season.
While title favourites PSG have splurged on the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lille played their trump card, unveiling the 50,000-capacity Grand Stade Lille Metropole.
After eight years in a temporary venue, Lille will now play in the cosy confines of France’s first stadium with a retractable roof for the first time against Nancy on Friday.
With Champions League football guaranteed this season, Lille head coach Rudi Garcia said his squad already felt at home at the new venue.
“Weirdly, we feel already at home” Garcia said.
“I say weirdly because otherwise it would feel more like the day before a European game played away, because we could have the feeling that it’s not home.
“We have been here several times, three times at least, and it helps get accustomed to the place. We know how it’s going to be on Friday as we are used to the new stadium already.”
Though the 2010/11 champions have lost their star man Eden Hazard to Chelsea and struggled to fill the smaller Stade Lille, chairman Michel Seydoux said it was a huge step toward the club becoming one of Ligue 1’s powerhouses.
“I think that the appeal of Lille will start to grow,” Seydoux said.
“Some said ‘you don’t fill the Stade Lille, you’ll never fill the Grand Stade’ but today we have 30,000 season ticket holders, so a big thanks to them. I hope that we’ll fulfil their expectations.
“We want to catch up with the big French clubs.
“Then, it’s you (the journalists) who will decide where we are in the French hierarchy.
“I think that having this stadium is an important step for us.”