Known by all as LS, an acronym that also covers the pre-bankruptcy decades as Lausanne Sports, revived Lausanne Sport are still based at La Pontaise – for the time being.
Opened in 1904, converted into the Stade Olympique for the 1954 World Cup, the stadium will soon be knocked down and its long-term host club move even further north from the city centre, to the new-build Stade de la Tuilière, in 2019.
Historically, though, the club’s roots are in Montriond, south of the train station near the Parc de Milan, where the first matches were played.
When seven local teenagers founded Montriond Football Club in 1896, there were already a handful of teams in Lausanne, created by expat English pupils of private international schools in the city. The most prominent, Lausanne-Football and Cricket Club, didn’t even accept Swiss players. Three of these clubs had been founding members of the Swiss FA in 1895.
Initiating a long-term rivalry with Servette of nearby Geneva with a 4-0 win at the Parc de Milan in 1900, Montriond took advantage of the demise of the private school teams by becoming Lausanne’s only representative in the Swiss Serie A in 1902-03.
Overshadowed by Servette in the Western Division, Montriond at last outstripped their rivals in 1913, going on to win a first Swiss title in controversial circumstances. Losing to then champions Aarau 5-4 in the play-off stage, Montriond protested the result, and won the replayed game 2-1.
In 1920, Montriond became Lausanne Sports and began hiring British managers, first former Millwall player Billy Hunter, then the renowned Jimmy Hogan. After working with the Swiss team that reached the Olympic football final of 1924, Hogan had two spells at Lausanne, laying the groundwork for the consecutive title wins of 1935 and 1936. On the pitch, the driving force was Willy Jäggi, a goalscorer for Switzerland at the 1934 World Cup.
The golden years came in the immediate post-war period, with epic battles against Servette, a floodlit Stade Olympique full to the brim – and the rise of ‘King’ Richard Dürr. Spearhead of the so-called ‘Seigneurs de la Nuit’ team, Dürr came to prominence at the dawn of the European era. LS had already reached the semi-final of the inaugural Fairs’ Cup of 1957, losing by the odd goal in five to a Jimmy Greaves inspired London XI.
With fellow ‘Seigneur’ and Swiss World Cup international Roger Vonlanthen, gifted terrace favourite Dürr led LS to two Swiss Cups and the league title in 1965. That spring, after an epic quarter-final at Upton Park with eventual Cup-Winners’ Cup winners West Ham, the Lausanne side were applauded off the pitch, Bobby Moore’s team edging the game 4-3.
As Dürr retired to run a landmark football bar in town, coming through the ranks was another emblematic figure, Pierre-Albert Chapuisat. In his three spells as a player at La Pontaise, the Lausanne-born libero was never more imperious than during the stand-out Swiss Cup final of 1981, LS reversing Zürich’s lead to win 4-3.
By the time the former captain returned to Lausanne as coach in 1987, his son Stéphane was just starting out on his illustrious career. Before leaving for Bundesliga fame, Chapuisat Jr spent three seasons at La Pontaise, earning the first of his 103 Swiss caps. In his last full campaign here, Chapuisat led LS to a runners-up slot in the league, the club’s highest finish for 20 years.
While Chapuisat was conquering Europe with Dortmund, LS were winning consecutive Swiss Cups and making their own international progress. In 1998, a last-gasp LS equaliser brought a classic final with St Gallen to penalties, and Lausanne victory. Swiss cap Fabio Celestini and Swedish international Stefan Rehn played similarly vital roles in the same showcase fixture a year later. The 2-0 win over Grasshoppers helped LS overcome the disappointment of losing a title showdown with Servette in a thunderstorm at La Pontaise. In Europe, LS notched up aggregate wins over Torpedo Moscow and Ajax. In 2000, they again finished runners-up in the league and, this time on penalties, in the cup.
By the time Chapuisat came back for a farewell season at Lausanne in 2005-06, the club had been turned upside down. Despite regular European football, silverware and title challenges, finances at LS had long gone awry. Unable to take their place in the top tier in 2002-03, Lausanne had been declared bankrupt at the end of an initial campaign in the second flight.
Lausanne Sports were no more. In June 2003, Lausanne Sport came into being, to join the humble ranks of the Deuxième Ligue Interrégionale. Two promotions later, they welcomed the prodigal Chapuisat. He immediately converted two penalties in an initial 5-4 win over Winterthur, the second-tier Challenge League campaign culminating four points from a promotion play-off.
A surprise if overwhelming appearance in the Swiss Cup final in 2010, and the return of the influential Celestini, helped drive an unexpected run in the Europa League. Significantly, it was team captain Celestini who converted the crucial Lausanne penalty in the Moscow shoot-out with Lokomotiv to seal an unlikely place in the group stage for the resurgent Swiss side. The disappointment of a winless campaign was assuaged by LS winning the Challenge League and joining the Swiss elite for the first time since the ignominy of 2002.
Struggling at first, doomed to relegation in 2014, LS bounced back at the second time of asking in 2016 under the trusted stewardship of Fabio Celestini. A bleak run in early 2017 all but scuppered attempts to build on that promotion – a mid-table berth for 2017-18 should set the club up as a top-tier outfit by the time the Stade de la Tuilière is unveiled in 2019.
Home to Lausanne Sport, Lausanne Sports before them and Montriond FC before them, the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise started out as plain old La Pontaise in 1904 before Charles-François Thévenaz created an elegant, multisports arena here 50 years later.
A worthy stage for five matches at the 1954 World Cup, including the memorable semi-final between Hungary and Uruguay, the Stade Olympique narrowly missed out on hosting the Games of 1960 but witnessed many classic floodlit clashes during Lausanne’s heyday in the 1960s.
Venue for Athletissima, a major athletics event in the summer calendar – a world 100 metres record was set here in 1994 – the Stade Olympique will host Lausanne’s home games until 2019. After that, the stadium, running track, facing stands with multi-coloured seats, low open ends behind each goal, will be removed. Athletics meetings will be staged at the Stade Coubertin by the lake, LS move to the Stade de la Tuilière currently under construction near and A9 motorway linking the French and Italian borders, and Lausanne airport.
For the time being, the main Tribune Interima (Nord) and facing Tribune Bertholet+Mathis (Sud) run along the sidelines, Blocs Est and Ouest sit behind each goal.
Home fans stand in the Bloc Lausannois, sector N, at the far west end of the Tribune Sud. Away supporters are allocated sector 3, the Bloc Visiteurs, in Bloc/Tribune Est.
Official stadium capacity is 15,700 but for domestic league fixtures this is reduced. Blocs Est and Ouest aren’t used, except for the single away sector.
The Stade Olympique has its own stop on frequent bus line No.1, ten from Lausanne-Gare outside the train station, direction Blécherette, journey time 15min.
On the way back, if by chance you miss one, stroll the short distance down the hill to Casernes, and pick up the No.3 that terminates at Lausanne-Gare seven stops away.
For Lausanne’s return to the Super League in 2016, attendances rose to an average of below 5,000, the highest gate under 8,000. Unless Servette of Geneva go up, availability isn’t going to be a problem.
Advance tickets are distributed at local outlets of TicketCorner, such as the Post Office at avenue de la Gare 43 or the CFF ticket office itself at the train station. There are also English-language online sales through the club – which takes you through to TicketCorner in any case. They’ll try and sell you SF3 insurance as well but assuming you’re not expecting an elephant stampede, you can delete it. There’s also an SF6 delivery cost and you can have the ticket gift-wrapped.
Tickets are also available on the day, from the windows by the main entrance on route des Plaines-du-Loup.
A seat in the main Tribune Interima is SF49, and opposite in the Tribune Bertholet+Mathis SF30. LS fans pay SF25 to stand in Bloc N, away fans are charged the same price to sit in the Secteur Visiteurs.
Card-carrying seniors and students pay SF39 in the Tribune Interima, SF20 everywhere else. Children aged 6-16 are charged SF19 in the Tribune Interima, SF10 in the Tribune Bertholet+Mathis and SF7 to be with the home or away fans. Under-6s are admitted free.
Tucked inside the main entrance, the match-day Boutique du Lausanne Sport sells woollen hats with or without a pompom, Allez Lausanne flags, branded umbrellas and corkscrews, as well as retro Lausanne Sport T-shirts. All in blue-and-white, of course.
You should be able to find replica shirts, though somewhat charmingly, Lausanne have yet to catch on to the brand stretching of second kits, third kits, reserve goalkeeper jerseys, and so on.
If you’re using the Casernes bus stop, there are two venues nearby on avenue de la Pontaise: The Gate 11.11, a swish, contemporary restaurant at No.52, also equipped with a lounge bar and sport on TV; and, alongside at No.48, Les Alliés, an equally neat café-restaurant done out in the blue-and-white of LS, but not open at weekends (or mid-afternoon weekdays).
From being an honest, lived-in football bar decorated with LS line-ups, autographed photos of players (including Stéphane Chapuisat) and a terrace, dispensing Swiss Feldschlösschen beer, the Restaurant LS has upped its gastronomic game, now provides top-quality pizzas, grilled fish and fondue – but still has the terrace and ready supply of Feldschlösschen. It’s open Monday through Saturday, but should be operating if the home game is on a Sunday.
Run by a Spanish fan of La Coruña, the bar at the tennis club serves quality lunches, such as roast beef, steak tartare, even horse, but is also good for a sought-after Boxer beer from Yverdon on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Within the main stand of the stadium, two venues cater to guests on hospitality packages, the Hat-Trick and the Interiman Lounge. Starter, main course, dessert, drinks and match ticket at the Hat-Trick is SF350/€300.