“In the streets of the city, I noticed that there was a little less talk about the war in Ukraine or the rise in prices and a little more about basketball. » These days, Paul Seignolle, the president of the Abeille des Aydes de Blois, drinks whey. Le Petit Poucet of the Betclic Elite (ex-ProA) – the first division of French basketball – recorded three successes in as many games, against Roanne, Villeurbanne and Paris. The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 8, at home against Fos-sur-Mer.
An ideal start for a club discovering the very high level for the first time in its long history. “I’m starting to receive sympathy text messages from leaders of other clubs. Earlier, it was Monaco’s number two.declares, delighted, the one who is also the boss of the Mouvement des entreprises de France (Medef) of Loir-et-Cher, who willingly spins the entrepreneurial metaphor.
“ADA Blois, you see, is a very small business. » He’s not wrong. Even if it is up 30% this year, the Blois club’s budget – amounting to 3.6 million euros this season – is only the sixteenth of the 18 Betclic teams, i.e. “40% below average”, specifies Paul Seignolle, tapping his calculator. Even Orléans, the neighboring and rival city, in ProB (second division), has a higher payroll. So how can this extraordinary start to the season be explained?
“It’s a little easy, but I think it’s thanks to our consistency. In the last match against Paris, six players scored more than 11 points! And then the team has a real backbone. Mickaël Hay has been coaching us since 2013. As for the players, Thomas Cornely and Tyren Johnson have been with us for more than five years. »
“We have almost doubled our subscribers”
Tyren Johnson was instrumental in the accession of Blois to Betclic Elite. The American player remains essential. “At 34, he remains efficient, plays without negative pressure and willingly serves as a bridge for new foreign players who arrive”, says the general manager, Julien Monclar. Today, the little guy from La Vacherie, Louisiana, claims his adopted city loud and clear: on a last pre-match Instagram “story”, in the Parisian grayness, he praised the tranquility of the Blois countryside .
The club is also adjusting to its new dimension. In a week, he will launch the construction of his ambitious “performance center”, on the site of a disused pharmaceutical factory. At the Tennis court, the room inaugurated in 2017 where ADA Blois plays, the club has changed the parquet, the lighting and even the speaker. Young influencers have flourished under the posts on match nights: they film the dunks of the players then broadcast them with a lot of hip-hop beats. “Just in September, their footage generated 210,000 views on Instagram”notes Johan Gallon, head of ticketing and communication.
On Facebook, early fans, now retired, get motivated to follow their team by minibus across France. Christian Maupetit, 64, retired sports educator and president of La Ruche, one of two supporters’ associations: “With the rise, we almost doubled our subscribers, and our seamstresses made sixty “flashy” flags for the TV cameras. We also got a new t-shirt with the big bee! »
“We are not far from refusing 1,000 people per match”
Jean-François Huet, the former manager of the Leclerc hypermarket in Blois, convinced the son, his successor, to sponsor an entire forum, introducing the naming at the same time : “With this third victory, the national media will start to look at us differently. Our level of notoriety is rising, that’s for sure! »
President Seignosse has already done his accounts. “We are not far from refusing 1,000 people per meeting… places at 25 euros on average, i.e. 450,000 euros in lost revenue at the end of the seasonhe regrets. It’s a fact, our hall deserves more than 2,339 seats. It’s not for lack of pointing it out all these years. »
A remark which does not move Christophe Degruelle, the president of the Agglopolys Agglomeration of Blois, important financier of the ADA Blois and for whom the club has become “real territorial marketing tool”able to make the pool more attractive. ” We are not fools. Some elected officials faced with galloping inflation were not reassured to see us arrive in the eliteslice Julien Monclar. But the Loir-et-Cher is also about great economic adventures! I’m thinking of the Sisley cosmetics factory in Villebarou, the Vuitton workshops in Vendôme, the Beauval zoo. »
And why not the ADA. In order not to depend solely on subsidies from indebted communities, the club relies heavily on ticketing. It sells, for example, 40% of its seats to a pool of 250 subscriber companies, for standard, VIP or “premium” services.
Before making the balance sheets, Julien Monclar hopes to get plenty of points against Fos-sur-Mer on Saturday: “It’s a real match, because we will be facing a club like us: little guys from proB who play in proA. »