The boss of La Maladière denies wanting to divorce the club Neuchâtel. Less than a week before the resumption, he summons the secret ambitions of the “Red and Black”.
With the top two in the standings automatically promoted and a third that could also be promoted depending on the outcome of the play-off opposing him to the last of the Super League, the 2022-2023 Challenge League Championship promises to be exciting and perhaps to be more balanced than it appears at first glance. Presented as the natural favourite, Lausanne may be a scarecrow on paper, but what happens on the ground?
After a disappointing final practice, which he finished in the soft underbelly of the standings (6th), Xamax has some solid arguments. To the point of being the surprise team, forgotten at the time of predictions? This is the wish of Jean-François Collet, its president. Before the final preparatory match of the Neuchâtelois (next Sunday at 3 p.m. against Basel on the FCB campus), the boss of La Maladière explains.
Jean-François Collet, what can we expect a few days before Xamax’s recovery?
Everything is possible, nothing should be banned. The climb is not the goal in itself, but if it came we would of course not hesitate to go to the end. Xamax will start his championship with a good team, but not necessarily the best.
Can’t not talk openly about promotion be seen as a lack of ambition, when there are guaranteed to be at least two ticket winners?
In that sense, Xamax actually has enough talent to be the surprise team. We’re going to play our shot thoroughly. If you’re aiming for a place in the top five, it could be 1 and 2, but also 4 and 5. Unlike Lausanne, you are not condemned to move up. The people of Lausanne will feel the pressure, especially when you know how much they have invested. At Lausanne, the result is a form of financial inequality that distorts competition. After that, everyone remains free to spend their money as they see fit…
Why did you miss several elements that could have been useful to you? We think of Nicky Beloko (Editor’s note: left for Lucerne) for example…
We could have chosen to keep them, that’s true, but that would be against Xamax’s philosophy. The club should also be a springboard. Beloko was on the street when we picked him up from Fiorentina 18 months ago. By shining with us, he opened the doors to the Super League. It’s a success for him, it’s a success for us too. And I believe we have found excellent players to replace those who have left.
Before the acquisition, the main change is mainly visual, with the appearance of a new logo, which takes a prominent place in Xamax’s past. Why such a change?
We wanted to modernize our logo while keeping the Xamax historical “X” from the 80’s. This resulted in the disappearance of the Serrières presence in the new graphics. Our old logo was difficult to adapt on a daily basis, especially in the field of merchandising.
Changing a club’s logo also represents an attack on its identity, an initiative often viewed poorly and opposed by the grassroots. What happened in this case?
It turned out pretty well, although you always have people who are against everything. Before moving on, this time we wanted to get the ultras involved by submitting our first project to them, which they validated. If they had clearly told us no, we would have said stop and we would have stopped there.
While you have owned Xamax since November 2019, you regularly get the intention to part with it. This rumor has even gained momentum recently. Simple question: are you looking, yes or no, to sell the club?
There is no question! I have absolutely no intention of selling Xamax. I tell you again, I have everything but desire, I have not spoken to anyone. On the contrary, I plan for the long term. The club is progressing, we are moving in the right direction.