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United's Rafael in Lyon

 By Ian Holyman

Lens confident of Ligue 1 status

Lens coach Antoine Kombouare may quit over the club's financial issues.

Lens president Gervais Martel insisted the club will be in Ligue 1 next season despite financial problems threatening their promotion.

Lens returned to the top flight after a three-year hiatus by finishing second in Ligue 2 last season. However, French football's financial watchdog, the DNCG, has yet to confirm their promotion with 10 million euros still to be accounted for in their planned 48 million euro budget.

Martel told media on Wednesday the problem stemmed merely from administrative and communications difficulties in having the funds transferred from Azerbaijan, the home of majority shareholder Hafiz Mammadov, to France.

"We're going to reduce a certain number of costs at the club to solve this problem with the bank transfer. It won't have an impact on the sporting side of things," Martel said. "There is no doubt -- Lens will be in Ligue 1 next season. We're lacking 10 million euros. If they don't come, we'll have a budget with 10 million less."

Meanwhile, Antoine Kombouare has told the club he will not be in charge should the team not be able to play in Ligue 1 next season.

The former Paris Saint-Germain boss has two years left on the deal he signed when he joined the club last summer but did not report to begin preseason training on June 30.

Kombouare told media he would stick by his decision not to return to the club until the issue was resolved.

He said: "I don't agree with what's happening at the club. I thought about it for three days before taking this decision. I am not politicking nor making any calculations. I want to be Lens coach in Ligue 1. We deserve it after earning our place on the pitch. You have to respect the club and the fans."

Martel, however, remained confident Kombouare, who also coached fellow northerners Valenciennes, would be able to fulfil his ambition.

He said: "I regret his decision. But he'll rejoin us as soon as we have the guarantees. He'll be the coach. We're working together. I talk to him on the phone several times a day. I have accepted his position."


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