by Romano Lupi MONACO. Monaco solidified second position in Ligue 1 with a 4-0 rout of Dijon DFCO on February 16 at the Stade Louis II stadium. As a matter of fact, PSG may be cruising to Ligue 1 glory but behind them, the league is really hotting up with Lyon, Marseille and Monaco in the battle for second. On Friday 16th February 2018 the princely club made the difference with Goals from Keita Balde, Fabinho, Rony Lopes and Kamil Glik earned a comfortable victory which moves them four points ahead of Marseille. Monaco had already threatened by the time Balde opened the scoring in the 13th minute as the Senegal international converted Djibril Sidibe’s centre to mark his return from suspension with a goal. Fabinho doubled the lead in the 69th minute as he converted from the spot after Thomas Lemar was fouled. Lopes made it three in the 87th minute when he fired home a rebound and then Glik sealed Monaco’s biggest home win since August in time added on. The success moves them to within nine points of leader Paris Saint-Germain, but a second successive Ligue 1 title still looks far of reach for Leonardo Jardim’s men.

On February 24th Toulouse and AS Monaco each took a share of the spoils after a six-goal thriller. Leonardo Jardim opted for continuity for this trip to Toulouse, with just one change from the eleven who started against Dijon, Rony Lopes coming in for Diakhaby. The visitors dominated the opening stages and the Portuguese winger took advantage of good work from Baldé to open the scoring (8’) with his fourth goal in his last six appearances in Ligue 1. The rest of the first-half mostly saw Toulouse on top, with chances for Yagi and Sanogo, but it was Sangaré who leveled matters by side-footing past Subasic from close range (24’) to make it 1-1 at the break. The second half started the same way as the first, with Rony Lopes repeating his earlier feat to bag his second of the game after Jovetic had hit the post (47’). The introduction of Ghezzal for Tielemans at half-time had beefed up Monaco’s right flank, and it was from there that the second goal was created. The Algerian then set up Stevan Jovetic for the third Monegasque goal (72’). The home side were up against it, but showed grit and determination to haul themselves level, with a penalty from Delort (76’) and the equalizer from Sanogo (87’). An eventful game ended with the two sides sharing the points (3-3). The Red & Whites’ next opponents are Bordeaux, who visits the Louis-II on Friday 2 March. I will update Ligue 1 result asap. As the matches come thick and fast, fans will show big support for the Red & Whites until the end of the season!

Prince Albert of Monaco at the World Stars Football Match between the Star Team Monte Carlo and the F1 Driver Team, at the Stade Louis II of Monaco, May 20, 2014

Affiliated under the number 91, the AS MONACO club is one of the oldest of the French Football Federation. Although the football arrived in the Principality at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was at the end of the World War I that the AS Monaco was created. The multiple sports club of the Association Sportive de Monaco was founded on the 23rd August 1924. AS Monaco Football was then absorbed by the latter and became the football section of the enlarged Monegasque sporting club. After the 1924 – 25 season, it rapidly got promoted to the group B. But, in the Thirties the professionalism is still in its early stages.

Reaching and keeping the professionalism rank is hard. The Club faces financial difficulties, and it dwells in the ranks of the amateur leagues in the Forties. After the Second World War, it was at the dawn of the 50s that AS Monaco imposed itself at the highest level thanks to a radical change particularly in the a hierarchical organization. Benefiting from the unwavering support of Prince Rainier III, who then succeeded his grandfather, Prince Louis II, AS Monaco continued its ascent until the promotion into the First Division (Ligue1) in 1953. ASM found itself on the first rung of the national podium in division 1 at the end of the 1955-1956 season and then again two years later, in 1957-1958. The following season is a real turning point for AS Monaco with the arrival of Lucien Leduc as coach. This new coach will lead the club to its first national trophy by winning the France Cup in 1959-1960. It was in the 1960-61 season that AS Monaco first started wearing the mythical red and white diagonal striped strip suggested by Princess Grace.

In 1961 the players’ diagonal white and red shirt of ASM was designed by Princess Grace of Monaco (here on 1978-79 season)

And this was the season that saw the club become French Champions for the first time. In addition, they added another trophy that they had not yet won – the Drago Cup. So now the club would be playing on the biggest stage in Europe against the best in European football, with now international recognition to crown their achievements on a national scale. In 1961-62, AS Monaco took part for the first time in its history in a European Cup competition. 1962-63 is the Club’s “Annus Mirabilis”. This was the season when AS Monaco achieved its first (and, to date, only) European League and Cup doublet, all in the capable hands of Lucien Leduc. Unfortunately, at the end of the season, the President, the coach and several senior players all left the club. The years that followed were indeed less glorious. Despite being runners-up in 1963-64, the team generally finished in the bottom half of the table for quite some years. The club was invited to play in tournaments around the world in Brazil, in Germany, in Italy, in Mexico, in Belgium, and the Netherlands. However, this was not enough to prevent the Club, sixteen years after leaving it, from dropping back down into the Second Division in 1969. (Ligue 2) The “Seventies” started slowly for AS Monaco, up and down between promotion to Division 1 and dropping back down into the Second Division. This period also marked the birth of the Monaco Academy. The team regained its greatness with the fresh vigour of a young president, Jean-Louis Campora who became chairman in 1976, and with iconic players such as Captain Jean Petit or prolific scorer Delio Onnis, the all-time record holder of the most goals in the AS Monaco history but also in Division 1, future Ligue 1. Behind the scenes, the creation of the Training Centre was run by Gérard Banide in 1975. Quickly this innovative initiative would bear to a golden era, managed by a Lucien Leduc back to business. As Gérard Banide took over as coach, AS Monaco won the French Cup, for the third time, in 1979 – 80. Youngsters who had progressed from the Academy, joined the professionals. Unfortunately, in the European Cup, AS Monaco was very inconsistent and failed to progress beyond the second round. until a young coach named Arsène Wenger gave AS Monaco a real European dimension at the end of the “Eighties”. In the meantime, the 1984-85 season saw the inauguration of the new Stade Louis II. An architectural gem with a capacity of 20,000 (reduced to an all-seated 18,523 today) which houses, in addition to the football pitch, an athletics track, a 3,000 capacity multi-sports hall, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, the club offices, the Academy as well as a University and several office suites.

Once again the AS Monaco lived an exciting season. That year, the club finished third in the league but won the French Cup by beating Paris-St-Germain in its stadium, the Parc des Princes. After two poor seasons, the arrival of Arsène Wenger in 1987-1988 marked the beginning of a new era: the club qualified for the first time in its history to the European Cup quarter finals, known nowadays as Champions League.

It was also in this season that George Weah, the future Ballon d’Or Golden Ball”, arrived at the Club. In 1989-1990, Monaco arrived finally on the European scene: two titles, a French Cup, three semi-finals and a European final, the “Nineties” saw the AS Monaco integrate the European elite. At a time when only the winner of the championship may compete in the Champions League, AS Monaco took advantage of the disqualification of the OM in 1993 to discover the new C1 formula, with the group stage replacing the first rounds. The team reached the semi-final stage against the great AC Milan and, despite having players such as Djorkaëff, Thuram, Petit, Klinsmann, Scifo, etc. in the team, could only finish ninth in the League. It was during this season that Jean-Luc Ettori, holder of the record for the number of games played in the First Division, played his 602nd and last game in the Monaco shirt. At the end of the following season, Arsène Wenger resigned as first team coach after seven very successful years with the Club. After Gérard Banide took the Club into the UEFA Cup, Jean Tigana arrived to take over. The 1996-97 season coincided with the 700th anniversary celebrations of the Grimaldi dynasty in the Principality, and AS Monaco added the icing on the cake by winning the League title for the 6th time. It was an exceptional season from all points of view but the team’s excellent run in the UEFA Cup was finally ended by Inter Milan at the semi-final stage. The next one was almost as beautiful. AS Monaco finished fourth in the League and reached the semi-final of the Champions League. But yet again the Italians – this time Juventus – prevented Monaco from getting to the final. Anyway, Monaco was clearly firmly established among the European greats.  This decade of top-flight, ended even better. It started with the League title for the final championship of the 2nd millennium, and the 7th time in its history.  First decade without a championship title since 1960, the “2000s” were the theatre of the biggest European exploit of AS Monaco, with more difficulties ahead of them. AS Monaco, which, from this moment had a new name, the Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club SA, now had a couple of less-glorious seasons after winning the championship in 2000. After twenty-eight years as head of AS Monaco, Jean-Louis Campora stepped down, to be replaced by Pierre Svara, a member of the Board of Directors since 2003, for a great run in the Champions League. Monaco’s epic 2003-2004 marked a whole generation. The seasons which follow were more chaotic. Three presidents followed one another within five years: Michel Pastor, leaving his position to Jérôme de Bontin in 2008 who in turn gave it to Etienne Franzi in 2009. An instability that we find on the substitutes’ bench. The 2009-2010 season started with both humility and determination. The Club finished the season by reaching the Cup Final and finished in eighth place in the League, the highest position since 2004-2005. At the end of a slow agony during the season 2010-2011, the club is relegated to Ligue 2 for the first time in thirty-five years! The club will put a season to recover from that fall. In fact, it is in Ligue 2 that AS Monaco FC reconstructs itself. It is with a thunderclap that begins the most recent history. Dmitry Rybolovlev arrives as the chair of the club in December 2011 with big ambitions in spite of a very complicated sports situation. It is the electric shock. Rybolovlev bought a 66% stake. The remaining 33% stake in the club is owned by Monaco’s ruling family, and Rybolovlev’s purchase of the club was approved by HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. Dmitry Rybolovlev was subsequently appointed president of the club. In June 2012, Claudio Ranieri was recruited to carry out this mission. In May 2013, Monaco was promoted to Ligue 1 after securing the second division title. After gaining promotion, Monaco became one of the most prodigious spenders in European football in the summer of 2013 under Rybolovlev’s patronage, spending £146 million on players including Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho. In January 2014, Monaco agreed to pay the governing body of French football, a one-off voluntary payment of €50 million to remain exempt from a ruling by the LFP that its clubs must have their head offices located in France. As AS Monaco is based in the tax heaven of Monaco, it has managed to avoid the punitive effects of tax increases in neighbouring France. In spring 2014, Monaco AS finds its place within the Champions League. In a March 2015 interview with Nice Matin, Rybolovlev re-iterated his long-term commitment to the club and also expressed his delight at Monaco’s successes since his arrival. The 2015–2016 was the club’s third season back in Ligue since its promotion from Ligue 2 in 2013. Monaco participated in Ligue 1, the UEFA Champions League, the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue. Monaco won the Ligue 1 title on 17 May 2017 by defeating AS Saint Etienne 2-0. Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappé scored 30 and 26 goals respectively to ensure Monaco won their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years.

Prince Albert applauding his Monaco AS take on Paris Saint-Germain in the 2014-2015 season
Monaco players hold the trophy as they celebrate their French League One title after beating Paris Saint Germain

To be continued…


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