Former Watford and Sunderland players headed for Ligue 2

Sunderland Gates

There is now another power club in Paris, and former Premier League players are helping Red Star FC towards the second division.

Unlike in England, only the top two divisions in France are guaranteed professional status, with the Championnat National a combination of amateur and pro teams.

In the French capital, with everyone’s eyes firmly focused on Paris Saint-Germain, many have failed to notice Red Star FC sitting on top of the third division with former Sunderland and Watford players playing their part in the success.

There are just seven weeks remaining in the season, but Red Star are looking up rather than down. The Parisian club just avoided relegation last season, but an ambitious plan and some astute moves have seen then push up to the very summit of the table.

They are currently three points ahead of city rivals Paris FC, four points clear of Bourg-Peronnas and a comfortable 10 points away from fourth-placed Dunkerque. The top three sides will be promoted to Ligue 2, so the club from the north of the city are looking in good shape. On Wednesday night they took a step closer by beating bottom of the table Épinal 4-2 in a crucial away win.

For English football fans there are a few names of interest that may surprise some.

Although he hasn’t scored in the league since November, former Sunderland forward David Bellion has scored six goals this season and played his part in the early run.

Hameur Bouazza, who played for Watford, Swindon Town, Fulham, Charlton Athletic, Birmingham, Blackpool and Millwall, joined in the summer and has also made an impact, scoring four times, including a goal against Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France.

However, the real success story has been that of 33-year-old French veteran Kevin Lefaix. After making his name as a prolific striker at this level, he joined Red Star last season and finished with 11 goals. His hat-trick on Wednesday took his total to 13 and he looks set to play in Ligue 2 for the first time next year.

Paris needs a second team to rise up and take some of the attention away from PSG. With two clubs set to win promotion; the French capital could finally be becoming a city of football rather than love.

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