OGC Nice President Jean-Pierre Rivère spoke to L’Équipe of his delight to face Ajax, and hopes the European adventure will not stop there.
The first leg of the third qualifying round match between Nice and Ajax rolls out tonight in a sold out Allianz Arena. Following the club’s magnificent third place finish from last year, Le Gym’s president Jean-Pierre Rivère would like to crown their great season by pulling off a feat over this two-legged affair. Victory would at least guarantee them a Europa League spot.
Your club faces Ajax in a double or nothing matchup, which would bring your club to the Champions League or nowhere at all, without European football to play. That would be a terrible injustice…
We are already aware of that. To deem it an injustice is a bit strong, but it would not be normal. To not be able to compete in any European football, after fighting for 38 match days to get to third place, would certainly be difficult. With that being said, we are still ecstatic to be here.
With Ajax as the worst possible side to face…
When I saw the matchup, I told myself that we could have done better. But who knows? We can only judge these draws after they have taken place. Do you know what will happen tomorrow? The stadium will be full, and this is the only thing our players are looking forward to. We will take Ajax. Did you see what happened with Galatasaray? Eliminated in the 2nd qualifying round against the Swedish club Östersund. We are certain that against Ajax, we will be fully concentrated.
Do you fear that the qualifying rounds may ruin the club’s start to the league?
No. These games may have an effect on your physical and mental state, but more importantly, they make you raise your level. Playing such strong opponents will be useful for the beginning of the season. For the club, it will be a boost to compete in European football.
Has it become important to play European football every year for Nice?
The more often we compete in it, the better we will find ourselves. This applies to all areas, but we also need time to grow. If we analyse our budget in relation to our standing, we are not where we would expect to rank (4th in 2016 and 3rd in 2017, with the 10th largest budget), so time is important. We are seeing the results of our long, hard work. With this philosophy and the same principles, we have helped the club progress.
You have a Chinese investor who has great financial means. Why not invest to take the club to the next level, similarly to how Lyon has done?
Lyon is a different project. Jean-Michel Aulas has been there for 30 years. Our investor does not have the sole objective of investing a lot of money. Every president would like to have lots of money and do incredible transfer windows, but currently, we have a project and we need to respect it.
These last two seasons went pretty well; don’t you think? We are going to continue on this path. Our goal is not to be fourth, then third, then second, then first. Our training camp will be finalised towards the end of August. I hope that our revenue will improve, as will the club. From there, we could increase our budget (it went from 42 to 45 million this season), and so on and so forth. But there will not be a major injection of funds.
This summer, you almost lost your coach, Lucien Favre (to Dortmund)…
The coach is a cornerstone of our project. Following their good performances, Lucien, as well as other players, were in demand. This is to be expected. The question around his departure was brought up, but is no longer asked, and we are very happy to have him with us.
Did you have to force him to stay?
Not at all. You should not tighten the screws with a coach. If a coach wants to leave, it is very complicated to keep them. A coach can leave if he has an interesting offer, but we also have our attractive features. To keep him and continue our adventure, we put them forward, and it worked out well.
One day, will Nice buy a player or multiple players worth more than €10m?
It could happen some day, but it would depend on the opportunity that presents itself. For the time being, we do not want to spend as much as the others. And it is not because we spend a lot, that favourable results come with follow. For now, we are happy with our model.
Did you not want a goalkeeper?
We did ask ourselves about our goalkeepers, but decided to maintain our trust in them (Cardinale and Benitez). We are very happy, because they are very good goalkeepers.
Has the Dalbert case (currently pushing for a move to Inter Milan) ruined the atmosphere?
No, that is part of the environment of a club. There are always clubs with greater means. However, not everything written in the press was true in regards to the multiplication of salaries (if he were to sign in Inter, he would have multiplied his salary by eight). People laughed at the release clauses of certain players, but now, people realise that they are no joke, and that we are in a favourable position when working on these cases.
Any word on the transfer window?
There should be three or four more arrivals, and two departures. We want to finish these as soon as possible, but certain cases take more time than others. I think we will manage, because these last ones should be finalised faster than those from last year.