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Lille have a long-standing rivalry with its neighbours RC Lens. The two clubs regularly contest the Derby du Nord. Lille is presided over by Michel Seydoux, a French businessman and movie producer. Seydoux initially purchased shares of the club in January 2002 and, subsequently, gained majority control two years later.
Before the Second World War, the city of Lille had two clubs in Ligue 1 - Olympique Lillois and Sporting Club Fivois. Weakened by the conflict, the two clubs decided to merge after the Liberation and gave birth to LOSC (Lille Olympique Sporting Club) in the autumn 1944. Within its first decade of existence, the new club won two league titles and reached second place in the French Championship for four consecutive seasons. In the Coupe de France the club accumulated five wins in seven finals, including five successive finals. The final of the Latin Cup, the forerunner of the European Cup, was also reached.
LOSC was relegated for the first time in 1956. The club became a mid-table side and in the late 1960s, after a long period of anonymity, and weighed down by a lack of facilities and resources, LOSC abandoned its professional status. It was feared that the club might disappear. However, some young leaders, such as Max Pommerolle, came and gave new impetus to the club. Nevertheless, the results remained erratic and the only titles that ignited the fans' passions were won in the Second Division.
1980–2000: Laying The Foundations For Future Success
In July 1980, LOSC was the first French Club to opt for the status of a Mixed Economy Company, of which the City of Lille became the majority shareholder. The teams of presidents Amyot, Deschot and Dewailly all struggled to compete with the top teams in the country. Jacques Amyot's resignation in 1990 led to three more difficult years for the club which compromised its very existence. It took Bernard Lecomte's arrival in 1993 to set the club finances on the road to recovery. After a final relegation in 1997, the team trained by Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodžić was soon promoted back to the elite, in the same year that French Football League was privatised.
Stade Pierre-Mauroy was inaugurated in 2012. Originally named the Centre Olympique de Lille Est, the club's sporting venue is spread over five hectares and features three natural grass football pitches and one synthetic pitch, as well as a number of buildings including a medical centre and gymnasium. These attributes had seen the club house part of the LOSC Youth Academy here, before all the club's operations were moved to the Domaine de Luchin in Camphin-en-Pé.
The Derby du Nord is a football match contested between French clubs RC Lens and Lille OSC, two of region's most successful clubs. The derby has the name despite Lille being the only club of the two situated in the department of Nord. Lens are situated in the western department of Pas-de-Calais. The name can also refer to matches involving Lille and Valenciennes as both clubs are located within Nord, however, the match historically refers to matches involving Lille and Lens. As a result, the Lille–Valenciennes match is sometimes referred to as Le Petit Derby du Nord. The two clubs first met in 1937 when Lille were playing under the Olympique Lillois emblem. Due to each club's close proximity towards each other being separated by only 40 kilometres (25 mi) and sociological differences between each club's supporters, a fierce rivalry developed. The Derby du Nord is underpinned by social and economic differences, since the city of Lens is known as an old, working-class, industrial city and Lille as a middle-class, modern, internationally oriented one. Nowadays the matches, which can spark intense feelings on both sides, have gained prominence as they may determine berths in continental competitions.
Former coaches include Georges Heylens (1984–1989), a former Belgian international player, Jacques Santini (1989–92), who managed France between 2002 and 2004, Bruno Metsu (1992–93), who managed Senegal in the 2002 World Cup, Pierre Mankowski (1993–1994), who was formerly the assistant coach of the French national team and Vahid Halilhodžić (1998–2002), who can be credited with the club's revival in the late nineties. The current coach, Rudi Garcia, who played for Lille from 1980 to 1988, replaced Claude Puel at the beginning of the 2008 season. Puel had been with Lille since 2002. Thanks to his successes with the club, Puel had been approached by Portuguese club Porto to replace José Mourinho and league rivals Lyon to replace Alain Perrin; he finally decided to join Lyon after six seasons at the club.