A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today
International aerospace hub Toulouse had its flagship football club, Toulouse FC, salvaged then sent into back into Europe by a man who made his fortune in airline catering.
In 2001, Toulouse-born Olivier Sadran stepped in to save his home-town club. Since then, TFC (‘TéFéCé’) have qualified for both European tournaments, including a debut season in the Champions League in 2007-08.
Formed in 1937, the first Toulouse Football Club won the French Cup 20 years later. The 6-3 win over Angers included two goals from René Dereuddre, the star forward of the day.
In 1961, entrepreneur Jean-Baptiste Doumeng took over the club. This former Résistance fighter, who made his millions doing business with Communist Europe, gradually replaced the 1950s side with players such as striker Edmond Baraffe.
Though keeping Toulouse in the top half of the top flight, even making the Fairs’ Cup, Doumeng had overspent his budget. A misjudged amalgamation with Red Star in Paris came to nothing, except for Baraffe’s transfer there. Toulouse Mark I folded, with the consequence of the French FA permitting clubs to amalgamate only within a close distance of each other.
A new club emerged from Union Sportive Toulouse, formed in 1970 and a regular fixture in Ligue 2 for most of that decade.
UST became Toulouse FC, and professional, before 1979-80.
French internationals Philippe Bergeroo, Guy Lacombe and Yannick Stopyra came on board after TFC’s subsequent promotion to Ligue 1. Along with three top-five finishes, the highlight of the decade, perhaps the club’s history, was a penalty shoot-out win over Maradona’s Napoli in 1986, Diego himself missing the vital spot-kick.
Despite the arrival of an ageing Dominique Rocheteau and a young Fabien Barthez, TFC slipped down the table. Financial troubles haunted the 1990s.
In 2001, new owner Olivier Sadran again reformed the professional status of the club, forced to restart in the third flight. Within two years, TFC had jumped up two flights.
It took the hiring of coach Élie Baup – and burly Swedish striker Johan Elmander – for Toulouse to match their achievements of the 1980s. The later Bolton goalgetter scored a hat-trick for TFC to beat Bordeaux en route to a Champions League debut in 2007.
Pitted against Liverpool, TFC held the Reds to a solitary goal in the August heat of Le Stadium but fell 4-0 at Anfield. European form hardly improved in the subsequent UEFA Cup.
With goals from André-Pierre Gignac, TFC returned to Europe in 2009-10, a late goal from Bruges putting paid to their Europa League hopes. The campaign was marred by the beating to death of TFC supporter Brice Taton by Serbian hooligans in Belgrade before the game with Partizan. A plaque is mounted in his memory at Le Stadium.
TFC continued to stay afloat in Ligue 1, despite selling Moussa Sissoko to Newcastle and Étienne Capoue to Spurs. Goals from attacking midfielder Wissam Ben Yedder saved many a day in the disappointing campaign of 2014-15.
An extra-time win over Marseille to reach the semi-final of the League Cup in 2016 has proved the only highlight since – with the possible exception of victory over Ajaccio in a relegation play-off in 2018.
The field of dreams – and the stands around it
The Stadium Municipal, known as ‘Le Stadium’, was built for the 1938 World Cup. Due to stage one first round match, it ended up hosting two as Cuba’s game with Romania went to a replay after a 3-3 draw. Then it was also referred to as the Stade Chapou – today the name of a swimming pool north of Île du Grand Ramier, the island that had hosted local sports since the 1920s.
Attendances for the two games were just under 10,000. Yet Le Stadium was not even complete – this only happened after World War II.
Regularly filled with crowds of 30,000 plus for big rugby matches, Le Stadium came to life for the round-ball game in the 1980s, and the visits of Maradona’s Napoli and Rinat Dassayev’s Spartak Moscow.
Overlooked for Euro ’84, Toulouse improved on its functional appearance with it came to France ’98. Out went the pillars and roof, in came a natural light and a metallo-textile covering. Capacity crept up to 37,000, neutrals enjoying late goals by Romania’s Dan Petrescu and Holland’s Edgar Davids to settle vital ties against England and Yugoslavia respectively.
Another €40 million was invested to bring facilities further up to scratch for Euro 2016. Capacity is now 33,150, less than the 35,000 originally envisaged, a slight downsizing of the revamp as budget strings were tightened.
Local architects Cardete & Huet, aka Amsycom, were part responsible for the work, which saw the lower part of the stands knocked down and rebuilt for four games, including Wales’ 3-0 demolition of Russia. Le Stadium is also used as a major concert venue.
Home fans are housed in the Virage Est (also named after TFC fan Brice Taton who lost his life in Belgrade).
Away fans are usually allocated a sector in the Virage Ouest and/or given a limited number of places in a far end of the Honneur Nord. Neutrals are best accommodated in the Honneur Nord or Sud along the sidelines.
Going to the stadium – tips and timings
A stop on tramway line T1, Croix de Pierre, is a short walk over the water to the stadium. It’s two stops from Arènes and four from Palais de Justice (both linked with the airport) on the same T1 line.
On match days, free buses also shuttle from Arènes tramway stop, which links with red métro line A, and the city’s train station of Matablau and bus station alongside.
Empalot and St-Michel Marcel Langer stations on yellow métro line B are about a 10-15min walk from the stadium.
Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much
Availability is rarely a problem at Toulouse FC. Several agencies distribute online, including Ticketmaster and Fnac. In town, TFC have an outlet on the top floor of the MIDICA department store (Mon-Sat 9.30am-7.30pm) by Esquirol metro.
At Le Stadium, the Boutique/Billetterie (Tue, Thur & Fri 11am-3pm, Wed 11am-5pm, non-match Sat 10am-12.30pm, 2pm-6pm) is behind the Honneur Nord by the main road. It also opens 2hrs before kick-off.
Among the violet replica shirts, Patrick Boudreault’s beautifully illustrated history of TFC since 1937 merits investigation.
Ticket prices start at around €12 in the cheapest Virages Haut behind the goals, €15 in the Virages Bas, €20 in the Honneur Sud and €25-plus in the Honneur Nord.
Where to Drink
Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors
Le Stadium is set in a recreational zone on an island – there are no bars alongside. On match days, La Bodega marquee behind the Honneur Sud proffers drinks and eats. There’s also a popular Snack-Buvette outlet behind the main stand.
For a pre-match swiftie before you get there, by St-Michel Marcel Langer métro, L’Évasion shows games, hosts DJs and serves craft beer. Opened back in 1990, nearby Dubliners (46 avenue Marcel Langer) also screens matches and gets ‘em dancing with live music.