This season the top five leagues rankings of European football have been flipped on its head, as new competition heavyweights emerge.

Just look at Spain and Germany. The way Girona has stolen the spotlight in La Liga, currently holding third place in the league, looking to qualify for Europe for the first time in their history.

Who can forget Bayer Leverkusen. Under the guidance of Xabi Alonso, whose only previous senior managerial experience was with the reserve side of Real Sociedad, they ended Bayern Munich’s chokehold of German club football by winning the Bundesliga and securing the club’s first ever league title.

Elye Wahi of Lens, left Brendan Chardonnet of Brest in action during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between RC Lens and Stade Brestois 29 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on March 9, 2024 in Lens, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Brendan Chardonnet of Brest in action during the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between RC Lens and Stade Brestois 29 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on March 9, 2024 in Lens, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

So it begs the question, why are we reading about Stade Brestois?

Now you would be forgiven if you haven’t heard of them or know very little about them.

After all, their highest ever finish in Ligue 1 before this season was 11th, hardly a team that you would actively look forward to watching, while in a league that is often in the conversation of ‘is it even in the top five anymore?’

Well let’s start with the common question of football these days, who owns your club?

Let’s mention Bayer Leverkusen, who are owned by the company probably supplying a good chunk of your medicine cabinet, Bayer Pharmaceuticals.

Then there is Girona, 47% owned by the king of the multi-club ownership model, the City Football Group, who also have in their portfolio A-League side Melbourne City and more famously Manchester City.

So while the club’s stories this season are impressive and no part of their success should be taken away from them by any means, they are both backed by ownership that let’s just say are not struggling for money.

Whereas Stade Brestois, are backed by brothers Gerard and Denis Le Saint, who made their riches taking over their fathers Brittany-based company in the world of fruit and vegetable distribution.

While they are certainly not a poor club by any stretch, it would be hard to compete with fellow French clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, funded by Qatari Sports Investment, which is essentially a fancy way of saying they are owned by the Qatari Government.

Furthermore, according to Transfermarkt, Stade Brestois have the 13th most valuable squad in the league, as well as having the fourth lowest club value in Ligue 1.

Along with this, they have just six non-French players in their squad, the lowest in the competition. The squad doesn’t have any real household names, with the most recognisable potentially being Jordan Amavi from his brief time at Aston Villa.

Another extraordinary fact of this seasons success is the club’s spending habits, as Les Pirates spend €3.5 million (AUD $5.8 million) on signings and €8 million (AUD $13.25 million) out the other way, a measly amount in comparison to Monaco, who spend at least €72 million (AUD $119 million) on players and sit one behind Brestois on the ladder.

Taking all of this into account, how Brest is currently in second place and holding the second of four Champions League slots that Ligue 1 possesses, is in my opinion, the story of the season.

So who is responsible for their meteoric rise?

Eric Roy is the man in charge, who like Xabi Alonso has enjoyed unprecedented success in such little time at the helm.

All the more impressive when Roy’s last appointment as manager of a senior squad was with OGC Nice… all the way back in 2011.

Coach of Stade Brestois 29 Eric Roy speaks to the media during the post-match press conference following the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between RC Lens and Stade Brestois 29 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on March 9, 2024 in Lens, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Coach of Stade Brestois 29 Eric Roy speaks to the media during the post-match press conference following the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between RC Lens and Stade Brestois 29 at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on March 9, 2024 in Lens, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Standout players in the campaign include keeper Marco Bizot, who has racked up 11 clean sheets so far and was rewarded for his form between the sticks with a call up to the Dutch national team after three years out of the side.

Other stars include Romain Del Castillo who has contributed greatly to the team with eight goals and seven assists in 29 matches this campaign, while Kamory Doumbia has six goals and three assists, which doesn’t sound like much – but he is vital in the midfield partnering with Del Castillo on the wing.

Even more impressive when realising that Doumbia is still only 21.

So yes, while the season is not over and of course anything can happen, Stade Brestois’ rise through Ligue 1 despite being one of the favourites for relegation at the start of the season, is an incredible feat and are certainly a team to watch and get behind for the start of the 2024-25 season.

Hopefully we see them playing on Wednesday and Thursday mornings in the Champions League along with the giants, because we all love an underdog story and a competition tale of upsets.





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