Rescue mission

Bordeaux on the brink as Lopez’s ‘rescue mission’ turns sour


Paris (AFP) – Bordeaux face relegation from Ligue 1 for the first time in 31 years this weekend, but the fallout for a club in financial turmoil is likely to extend far beyond just dropping out a division.

The six-time French champions must realistically win their last two games, at home against Lorient on Saturday and in Brest on May 21, to have any chance of finishing in the relegation play-off.

However, their fate would be sealed if Saint-Etienne beat Reims or Nantes, condemning one of France’s most successful clubs to an uncertain future and the threat of bankruptcy.

Bordeaux have been in jeopardy since April last year when former owners King Street, an American financial group, appointed an administrator saying they wanted to leave after buying the team in 2018 for 100 million euros (104 million of dollars).

They were provisionally relegated to the Second Division in July over financial irregularities, but the decision was overturned after the league’s financial watchdog approved a takeover plan drawn up by businessman Gerard Lopez.

“It’s a rescue mission,” Lopez told Le Monde newspaper when he arrived last summer. “There are red lights flashing everywhere.

“There is a huge payroll, very little income and huge losses. We will need three to six months to stabilize the situation.

Lopez was kicked out of the Lille presidency in December 2020 after turning the club into a title contender while racking up debts of over €120m.

He likened the restoration project in Bordeaux to “climbing Kilimanjaro without oxygen”, a chilling description for a club that is on its last legs.

– The flops of the Petkovic experiment –

Lopez rolled the dice on Vladimir Petkovic, the Swiss coach who knocked France out of Euro 2020. The bet backfired and Bordeaux cut their losses in February.

The promised rebuild didn’t pan out, a team of young and old struggled to mix and Petkovic’s successor David Guion didn’t do better than the Bosnian.

The team’s highest earners were singled out – former Arsenal and France defender Laurent Koscielny was frozen – and January signings Josuha Guilavogui and Marcelo were little changed.

Bordeaux won the last of their French league titles in 2009 and lifted the cup in 2013, but the club have been drifting on the pitch for some time.

Last year they flirted with relegation before winning their last two games to stay in place, but 12 months of such optimism seems over the top for a side who have conceded 89 goals – the most of any team in the top leagues Europeans.

“For the Girondins, there is no model, there is no life in Ligue 2”, declared at the start of the year the general manager of Bordeaux, Thomas Jacquemier, when asked about the prospect of a relegation.

“The income we derive from TV rights in Ligue 2 does not allow the club to survive there.”

Bordeaux suffered administrative relegation in 1991 for huge debts, but were promoted to the top tier the following season.

After registering losses of 67 million euros for 2020-21 and expected to lose 35-40 million this season, Bordeaux could drop to the fifth regional level if forced into liquidation.

With the inevitable approaching, the club believe it could be avoided if certain conditions are met, and Lopez said earlier this month he would remain in the likely event of relegation.

Bordeaux would receive a solidarity payment of 7 million euros in the event of a drop, and 8.25 million from private equity firm CVC as part of a recent broadcast rights agreement reached with the governing body of the league.

The potential transfers of Sevilla defender Jules Kounde and Monaco midfielder Aurélien Tchouameni, both Bordeaux academy products, would attract a 20% selling fee, but Hwang Ui-jo and Junior Onana will also likely be sold for provide much-needed funds. for a club struggling to survive on and off the pitch.

Fixtures

Saturday (every 1900 GMT)

Bordeaux v Lorient, Lyon v Nantes, Metz v Angers, Monaco v Brest, Montpellier v Paris Saint-Germain, Nice v Lille, Rennes v Marseille, Saint-Etienne v Reims, Strasbourg v Clermont, Troyes v Lens