LILLE - THE STADIUM LILLE METROPOLE - CAPACITY: 18,086 ALL SEATER
About the Stadium Lille Métropole The Métropole stadium is currently in the twilight of its career as the club are building the Stade Borne de l’Espoir which will be their home from late 2008. The new stadium will hold 25,000 and is actually located outside the town of Lille in nearby Villeneuve-d’Ascq after the local council refused to give permission to redevelop the current ground. The current stadium was built as recently as 1976 but has proved to be too small for the ambitions of the club. Despite playing a couple of games in the Champions League in 2001, UEFA deemed the stadium unfit to hold games in 2005 and 2006 and so the games were moved to the Stade de France in 2005, and Lens’s Felix Boullaert Stadium the following season. Previously the club had played at the Stade Grimonprez Jooris.
The current stadium is basically an athletics track with stands developed around it. The stands behind the goals are open air and quite shallow, meaning that views are not very good especially in the first few rows.
Who plays there? The club as we know today of Lille Olympique Sporting Club (LOSC for short) were formed through a merger of two local sides in 1944. Less than two years later the club had won their first title as well as the French Cup to complete a domestic double. They went on to win the French cup four times in the next decade as well as a further title in 1954 saw the club as one of the most famous teams in France. However, this was to be the end of the glory days for Lille for some time – in fact until 2005 when they finished runners up in Ligue 1.
This 2nd place finish gave them entry into the Champions League Group Stages, although they actually made their debut in the competition in 2002. In the campaign of 2005/06 they recorded their most famous result when they beat Manchester United in Paris (having moved the game here to attract a crowd of over 75,000). With two games left in the group they had the chance of reaching the next stage of the competition, but only one point from these games saw them drop into the UEFA Cup where they went on to reach the last 16.
In 2005/06 they finished in the top three again, and managed to record the only double over eventual champions Lyon. After an easy win in the Champions League qualifying round they made the group stages again. This time they went one better than the previous season when they beat AC Milan 2-0 to leapfrog AEK Athens into the next round of the competition. There they met Manchester United again. After Ryan Giggs scored a controversial free kick the Lille team temporary left the pitch. Added to the serious crowd congestion that was experienced in the RC Lens stadium where the game was moved to on safety grounds, the club found themselves heavily fined.
How to get there For a better overview of football in France, go to Footiemap.com to view their excellent and comprehensive graphical overview of French football.
Getting a ticket Tickets for many games in the stadium sell out due to the small capacity. If you are coming to watch a game then it may be worth trying to get a ticket in advance by calling the club on +39 3 20 57 71 39 or from the store in 68 rue de Bethune. Tickets range in price from €10 for a place behind the goal to €35 in the main stand. Expect prices to almost double for Champions League games.
Nearest Airport Lille is one of the largest towns in the Picarde area of North France. As a conurbation you could quite easily include the nearby towns of Lens, Valenciennes and Ameins. The nearest major airport to Lille is Charles De Gaulle, which is some 110 miles to the south. The nearest major Railway station is in Lille – which is a major stop on the Eurostar trains to Brussels. Trains from the UK arrive every couple of hours at the dedicated station next to the main TGV station.
Driving is the easiest option to reach Lillle from the UK. The town is 60 miles down the A1 from the Eurotunnel terminal at Calais. Added to the convenience is the proximity of major Hypermarkets such as Carrefour and you can see why so many British football fans head south to watch games in Lille.