the brilliant Breton career of the discreet president Olivier Cloarec

For Olivier Cloarec, executive president and general manager of Stade Rennes, the Breton derby between Lorient and Rennes, this Friday (9pm, 20th matchday of L1) is an opportunity to return to one of the many clubs where he has been for 25 years . Portrait of an enthusiast in his own way.

In a few weeks Olivier Cloarec, president of the Stade Rennes, will celebrate his 50 years, half of which he spent in the world of football in all positions and in many clubs. If the ten o’clock shift is a party night and someone calls him “Cloclo”, one thing is certain: we won’t see him dancing on the tables. The man is of a discreet nature but above all efficient. “He’s very serious, very conscientious, confides Michel Jestin, former president of Brest and Vannes who worked with him for ten years at these two clubs. He’s a man we can trust.” “He called me one morning at 5:40, says Olivier Cloarec. He told me: ‘if I buy Vannes will you follow me?'”

In charge of marketing at the Stade Brestois, Finistère was then appointed general manager of the Morbihan club, “but we were six employees and 200 volunteers running the store.” We are in 2008. The VOC moved from the national team to Ligue 2 and found themselves a year later to the surprise of everyone in the League Cup final against Yoann Gourcuff’s Bordeaux 4-0 on penalties. But the essential is elsewhere, “in human adventures”, recalls Cloarec. “The hugs, the looks, the joy in the locker room after the victory in the semifinal in Nice (1-1, 4 tab 3) marked me the most, he adds. climb into Ligue 1 in a sold-out Saint-Symphorien stadium.

“We repainted the Francis Le Blé gallery together”

In Vannes the office is an Algeco where sometimes the heating goes on strike. In the first few months, no laundry is done for the shirts of the players, some of whom, like Pascal Delhommeau, have lived in the Champions League. It’s time to climb. “He’s been around, underlines Michel Jestin. He has real experience and knows football. I’m proud and happy for him that he’s in this position today.” Fifteen years later, daily life and economic reality are necessarily different for this father of three boys who converses 5-6 times a day with François Pinault, shareholder of Rouge et Noir.

The pleasure of recalling the career of the president of Stade Rennes who arrived from Dijon two years ago is the same with Pascal Robert, general manager of Stade Brestois, with whom he worked from 2004 to 2008. “Today he is president of Rennes. It is nothing today but I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten that at the time we ourselves had repainted the VIP box of the Francis Le Blé stadium with our own brushes to look like something. We really did everything.”

From intern to president

Practical, a natural habit for this grandson of a baker: “Olivier has true values, continues Pascal Robert. He is appreciated by all and above all he does not change when he could take his cigar. But if he is where he is, it is no coincidence. It’s also what he’s good at. He’s a hard worker.” Though he doesn’t talk much, his multiple experiences are accompanied by many anecdotes that he sparingly distills. Olivier Cloarec has known almost all positions in the professional world and has even evolved on the green square. “I won’t tell you I wasn’t a pro player due to a serious injury like some, he smiles. But I was playing Ermine Concarnoise in DHR and PH until the day I fractured twice within six weeks of my wedding!” After the marriage on the crutch, the future will be written behind the scenes and on the sidelines.

It is in a key, provocative moment that the Breton exiled to Strasbourg for his studies will discover professional football. “After a DESS in law, I had to do an internship as part of my Masters in sports marketing and management. No one had yet managed to do it at Racing. I set myself this challenge but I never had a club headquarters and at the Reception I ran into Claude Le Roy who said to me: ‘Cloarec is Breton, what are you doing here?'” I’ll never know if the blond wizard weighed in on the decision but the student is hired for six months as an intern. He will remain there until 2004, when he will cross France to land in Brest alongside President Jestin. Merchandising, ticketing, communication… the native of Pont-l’Abbé knows the terrain which allows him to speak the same language as many employees of the Stade Rennes.

“It is a reference in France for its location”

“Olivier is methodical and very calm, testifies Loïc Désiré, recruiting manager of the Racing Club de Strasbourg who knew Cloarec in Vannes and with whom he is now a close friend. He does not need to raise his voice to be heard. He says that he himself does not he likes conflicts, but you can imagine that in his position in a big club like Rennes he manages it every day, discreetly, without it getting out of hand, he loves football, he is a true enthusiast who knows all the ropes and can tell you that when it comes to transfers he is a very good negotiator, he is by no means a careerist, but thanks to his many experiences in all areas of a club, for me he is a reference in France in his position.

Olivier Cloarec and Florian Maurice at Roazhon Park in September 2022
Olivier Cloarec and Florian Maurice at Roazhon Park in September 2022 © ICON Sport

He did not imagine such a fate. “I never dreamed of becoming president and that’s not all, but I couldn’t refuse a request from Stade Rennes a second time,” he confided. This is the first reason he responded favorably to Nicolas Holveck’s request in early 2021. The second is Brittany. Very attached to his roots, Olivier Cloarec went through Guingamp as an intern, Brest, Vannes, Lorient and now Rennes. He just lacks Nantes to be complete. But today his heart won’t waver. “I’m 100% Rennes, without ambiguity,” he assures.

Pascal Robert hopes there is still a small place for Finistère. “He is at Rennes but I think he still has blood flowing for Brest. Brest-Rennes, it will be the last day. I hope they will already be in the European Cup and we will already be saved so that the meeting will be more peaceful. ” The conclusion of a season that began with the home defeat of Rennes (0-1) against the surprising Lorient. This Friday evening in Moustoir there is an air of revenge, and a little stress for President Cloarec.

Pierre-Yves Leroux with Xavier Grimault

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