In the shadow of Paris Saint-Germain, there exists the fourth-oldest club in France – Red Star FC.
Not to be confused with the Serbian club of similar name, this Red Star are trying to do things a little different. With Manchester United flop David Bellion guiding their creative direction, the club founded 125 years ago in 1897 are now regarded as one of the country's most cultural clubs.
Performances on the pitch haven't quite matched their cultural ambitions for some time, however. Red Star are currently 13th in the Championnat National – the third-tier of French football – having been relegated from Ligue 2 in 2019. They last played in the top-tier alongside the likes of PSG, Marseille and Lyon in 1975.
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But changes are underway in this northern suburb of the French capital, with former Premier League star Bellion at its heart. Bellion, now 39, is Red Star's creative director and brand manager, a title probably not that common at a football club.
His role involves helping the club build and grow through its culture and its historical community. One way they've been doing that recently is through their stylish green kit, which went viral online during the summer.
Are you a fan of Red Star's kit? Let us know in the comments section below.
Bellion, who is also an art collector in his spare time, spoke to GOAL in July about his role at Red Star, where he finished his playing career. "As soon as I gave up my football career, I told the chairman that I wanted to be a creative director and brand manager," he said.
"Of course, we had previously had many conversations about how to build bridges between football and global culture, involving art, photography, music, food, cinematography, architecture and anything that could be involved in Red Star.
"In terms of art and image knowledge, maybe only Francois Pinault who owns Rennes and Kering, and our chairman Patrice Haddad, are the chairmen that know what it means," Bellion adds. "It's important to mention it so readers and fans can understand why we know how to build culture through our historical community."
Bellion describes Red Star as "more than a football club" with an ambition to "trigger emotions on and off the pitch," before adding: "We have phenomenal supporters with a very strong mindset, they’re socially engaged with a strong voice and never sing one vulgar word in their chants.
"They strongly support refugees, feminists, antihomophobics and are antifascist like the whole club. When I quit my career and saw all of this incredible and beautiful history, I thought immediately in my heart about the romantic pop football club."
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