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 By Ian Holyman
Jul 17, 2014

Antoine Kombouare blasts Lens chiefs

Kombouare led Lens to a promotion place on his first season in charge.

Lens coach Antoine Kombouare has blasted the club's hierarchy for not doing enough to stop their promotion to Ligue 1 for next season being blocked by France's football authorities.

Earlier this week, the DNCG, which oversees French football's finances, confirmed on appeal the decision not to validate Lens' promotion to the top flight due to a shortfall in the club's planned 48 million euro budget.

Lens president Gervais Martel has insisted the issue, which concerns 10 million euros that should have been transferred by majority shareholder Hafiz Mammadov from Azerbaijan to the club's account in France, is merely an administrative error.

Unconvinced by that argument, the DNCG once again refused to allow Lens to play in Ligue 1, and while the club will now take its case to France's Olympic Committee, Kombouare told RTL Martel and Mammadov must do more.

"Unfortunately in France there are rules," the 50-year-old said. "You can only respect the DNCG's decision. Now we, the board and the shareholder, we have to get the job done.

"If we aren't in Ligue 1 today it's because we haven't done what was necessary to present a proper budget and, above all, put the money that is required on the account."

The former Valenciennes and PSG boss, who guided Lens to runners-up spot in Ligue 2 last season, added: "It's a strong message I am sending to my bosses. Today, I am not happy. I bang my fist on the table to say, 'Mr Shareholder, Mr Martel, do what has to be done so that the work we did is respected.'"

Kombouare has told Martel he will not return to work until the club's promotion is confirmed, and his first-team squad began preseason training without their coach late last month.

Martel, 59, travelled to the squad's training camp in Vittel to explain the situation to the players on Wednesday, but Kombouare feels actions speak louder than words.

"It's useless to talk," he said. "Today, strong acts are needed. I say again that I won't go to training as long as the club is in Ligue 2. But tomorrow, as soon the club is in Ligue 1, I will be there. Right now, the way Gervais Martel and the board are acting isn't important. What counts is that they put their cash on the table."

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