As 10-time French champions Saint-Etienne lost to Auxerre and ended their 18-year stay in the top flight of French football. Les Stéphanois drew in the relegation playoff 1-1 as Auxerre took an early lead in the second half on Sunday with a goal from Hamza Sakhi before Mahdi Camara got the equaliser. Then Ryad Boudebouz missed their first penalty as ASSE lost 4-5.
But as soon as Auxerre hit the last penalty, Saint-Etienne fans stormed the pitch and charged at their players. Soon the incident turned even ugly as the crowd started throwing flares toward the players’ dugout. The club have already been sanctioned several times this season for crowd-related troubles and similarly, this game was played with one stand closed following unrest at a game against Monaco last month.
After the game, the two co-presidents of AS Saint-Etienne Bernard Caiazzo and Roland Romeyer released a statement addressing the loss and the pitch invasion. The statement said, “We share the immense pain and sadness of all those who love the Greens, whether they are supporters or partners. This failure must be accepted. As major shareholders, we take full responsibility for this.”
“Beyond this terrible disappointment, we would like to thank the management of the club as well as all the employees and volunteers, who worked with skill, tenacity and dedication, in a particularly difficult context.”
“It is with them that the future of the club will be written. If we have been able to make mistakes in recent seasons, we have never stopped working to ensure the sustainability of ASSE, whose financial situation will allow it to assume the next year in Ligue 2.”
“In some time, we will announce important news concerning the future of the club and ours. An essential page in our life will be turned, but we place above all the ASSE institution which, we are convinced, will very quickly find its way back to the elite.”