A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today
A regular fixture in Ligue 1 for most of the last 15 years, FC Lorient undertook the 2014-15 campaign without the guiding light of Christian Gourcuff, the coach who led Les Merlus for the best part of three decades.
Gourcuff’s bitter departure at the end of 2013-14 was a wrench – but the secret of the recent success of Breton clubs lies in the close-knit ties at each of them.
No, they may not be family-run businesses as they would have been before the war – but they tend to attract young, ambitious club presidents who place faith in equally young talent, usually Breton, on and off the pitch.
Such is Lorient’s Loïc Féry, who took over in 2009 at the age of 35, well versed in commerce and the business practices of the Far East. Féry quickly replaced Gourcuff with 42-year-old Sylvain Ripoli, a defender for the orange-and-blacks for over a decade.
Ripoli’s first season was when Lorient were first promoted to the top flight in 1998 – under Gourcuff they had slowly risen up the ranks since he arrived as a young player-coach in 1982.
The club had been formed in 1926 by the Cuissard family, originally from Saint-Étienne. This connection allowed Lorient to poach talent from Les Verts, such as top-drawer coach Jean Snella after the war.
Always a major force in the regional game, Lorient constantly nurtured local talent, such as striker Stéphane Pédron, a major factor in the promotion season of 1997-98.
In the top flight for only two short spells, the second coinciding with beating Bastia in the French Cup Final of 2002, Les Merlus welcomed back the return of Gourcuff for a third, and decade-long term, in 2003.
Inspired by the Nantes model, Lorient played a swift passing game, keeping the ball on the deck and playing their way back into the top flight. Sadly, though, talent never stays at the Stade du Moustoir for long – Laurent Koscielny left for Arsenal after one season, while Yoann Gourcuff, son of coach Christian, was a youth at Lorient for ten years before leaving for Rennes, then Milan.
Frustrated at achieving top-ten finishes with such limited resources, Gourcuff senior left for the third and probably final time in 2014. President Féry, meanwhile, has bigger fish to fry, namely the completion of L’Espace FCL, the contemporary development centre at Ploemeur he began to plan out with Gourcuff in 2012.
The field of dreams – and the stands around it
Stade du Moustoir, also referred to as the Stade Yves Allainmat, was built in 1959. Up until then, Lorient’s modest needs were taken care of by the Parc des Sports, used for football, athletics, the Tour de France – and the occupying Germans for munitions storage.
Originally accommodating 6,000 spectators, the Stade du Moustoir was also used to host Celtic music festivals. As football took centre stage following promotion in 1998, so the stadium lost its cycling track and gained a new main stand, bringing the capacity up to 17,000.
A new South Stand (Super U) was added in 2010, artificial turf that same year, natural turf proving a constant problem – Lorient were the first club in Ligue 1 to adopt this measure.
Current capacity is 18,500, nearly all seated, with plans to expand to 22,000.
The home, north end, the Tribune Armor-Lux, accommodates the Kop Nord. Opposite, the two-tier Tribune Super U (South, sponsored by B&B Hotels) houses the ticket offices, club shop and the Merlus Ultras supporters’ group.
The main stand, Présidentielle/La Trinitaine, runs along one sideline, the one-tier Tribune d’Honneur/Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne the other. Visiting supporters are allocated a corner between the Tribune d’Honneur and home Armor-Lux.
Going to the stadium – tips and timings
The stadium is a 10min walk from Lorient station – veer right on the road (boulevard Cosmao Dumanoir) immediately outside, then first left down rue Émile Bourdelle. From the junction, the stadium is along boulevard Léon Blum, then left down rue Jean le Coutaller.
Equidistant on the other side of the ground are focal place Jules Ferry and the harbour.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
Games rarely sell out at the Stade du Moustoir, though the regional clashes with Rennes and Guingamp, and the visits of PSG and Marseille, should see near full houses.
The main ticket office in the Tribune Sud (B&B Hotels) opens Tue-Sat 10am-1pm, 3pm-7pm. Tickets are also sold at the main club shop in town (35 rue du Port, Tue-Sat 10am-noon, 2pm-6.30pm). Online sales are distributed from the FCL website and France billet.
A seat behind the goal (Nord/Sud) should cost around €20, a decent seat in the Tribune Présidentielle over €50. A very limited number of standing places is available at around €10 each.
what to buy
Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts
FCL have two shops, one at the stadium (Tribune Sud/B&B Hotels), one in town at 35 rue du Port, both with the same opening hours of Tue-Sat 10am-noon, 2pm-6.30pm.
Orange-and-black goodies include bathmats, fish-logoed USB sticks and Afro wigs, all the rage on French terraces these days.
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
The best pre-match spots are on the far side of the stadium from the station, near the Town Hall and place Jules Ferry. Le Parisien (15 rue Léo le Bourgo) is a friendly little bar with two TVs while on Jules Ferry itself, the Bellagio is a lounge bar/pizzeria that also screens FCL games.
At the stadium, business customers are treated to hospitality at the Salon du Port, regular fans at the Espace Pizza Sprint in the Tribune Super U.