Amiens: Bernard Joannin, the man who rocked French football

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Friday May 19, 2017. Amiens switches to euphoria by winning a historic accession to Ligue 1. Bernard Joannin, its president since 2009, is bathed in this surge of joy but does not fail to keep his feet on the ground: “You know to Amiens, we are in a region that is suffering a lot. We have Whirlpool going to close, and I send its employees all my best wishes. Football should give them a little joy this evening in this difficult life. “

No wonder then that the 70-year-old leader puts forward the lack of empathy of the Professional Football League (LFP) as one of his arguments in his fight after the anticipated end of the championship. His club had filed a new application for interim measures before the Council of State to avoid the relegation of Amiens, 19th, – “after 28 days when we signed a contract for 38 games” -, he was dismissed this Friday .

“I am frightened by the lack of humanity in the world of football”

“At the League, I feel that they are a little embarrassed because I have never been divisive, I always try to bring people, opinions, find common ground,” says Bernard Joannin. “The President did not hear our arguments, I take note of it. Amiens is in Ligue 2. But today, I am frightened by the lack of humanity in the world of football, I have the impression that the financial stakes are too great. It’s not my conception, sharing is part of my life, ”he says. Or rather of his many lives.

Born in Beauvais (Oise) on March 30, 1950, Joannin first started, twenty-five years later, in a career as a physical education teacher. Obvious for this son of a department head of a family allowance fund who grew up with the absence of a mother, who died when he was only 16 years old.

“I was happy in class, I loved the lessons, the recess where we played football, handball … I didn’t want to leave this happy environment so I said to myself: you have to get tough to be a teacher “Explains the former AS Beauvais footballer among the younger cadets, Oise table tennis champion among young people. While stationed at the Lycée d’Albert, “a small town of 10,000 inhabitants, 25 km from Amiens”, he stayed there for fifteen years.

“I couldn’t see myself ending up with a whistle in my mouth and an umbrella”

Change of course in 1990, the year he resigned from national education when “all my colleagues called me crazy”. “I was active with my students. If I had four classes on Monday, I would jog with the four. I couldn’t see myself ending up with a whistle in my mouth and an umbrella. It wouldn’t have been me. We also wanted to do something with my wife who was executive secretary and with whom I have now been married for 50 years. “

This is how another adventure started, the passion for sport still pegged to the body. “We started with 6-7000 euros in savings, he guarantees. After a sports store of 100 square meters in Albert, which my wife ran alone before I resigned, we opened one of 800 square meters, in Amiens. We came close to filing for bankruptcy 3 or 4 times but I joined the Intersport cooperative, I drew on the intelligence of the others who built me. “

Bernard Joannin currently owns 33 stores of the Swiss brand, and has 1,200 employees, who claims to be “gang leader but not boss”. His company Prosport, in which his wife and son work, has a turnover of 200 million.

4 million equity in the club of Amiens

It was therefore in the entrepreneur’s suit that he landed in 2009 in Amiens, taking over the club on the proposal of Pascal Pouillot, the former president, after having been a shareholder of 10%. “By increasing the capital of SASP, I passed the majority,” he said. I don’t know if it was the best decision of my life because I lost a lot of money during the five years in National, I spent more than 4 million on my equity but I did it for my city. It is thanks to her, to all the people I have met if I am there. “

Defender Samuel Allegro, now retired, knew him from the moment he joined the club. He remembers: “We had met him in small groups, he was surprised by the salaries of the players of a Ligue 2 club, he did not think they could earn as much. He favored dialogue, was very simple unlike some presidents I have known. He became a real leader after leaving from afar. It also took him “four-five years to understand the world of football”. “I thought that having succeeded in the professional world … Except that there, you manage artists, with their moods, not collaborators with a very rational profession. My desire was to bring Amiens to the highest level. “

Relegation to L2 is now looming. But no question for Bernard Joannin to become apathetic. “On the head of my little girl, every morning brushing my teeth, I swear to you that I think about how to make progress in my relationship with people, in the conduct of my business. From the moment we are in the perpetual quest to be better every day, we are in motion. One day, God will take me, I won’t even notice because I will be in action. “

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