Bordeaux relegated to third tier amid Fenway takeover talks

Bordeaux relegated to third tier amid Fenway takeover talks

July 9, 2024 at 4:38 PM
Bordeaux's Matmut Atlantique stadium
Bordeaux's Matmut Atlantique stadium. Photo: ROMAIN PERROCHEAU / AFP
Source: AFP

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Cash-strapped Bordeaux, who are in talks with Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group, were provisionally relegated to the third division on Tuesday because of lack of financial guarantees, the French football league (LFP) announced.

"This decision was expected, there is no surprise," a source close to the club said after a meeting with French football's financial watchdog, the DNCG.

Club owner Gerard Lopez did not attend the meeting but representatives of US group Fenway, owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team and Premier League club Liverpool, were present.

"Legally, we could not obtain a second stay of proceedings so the DNCG was obliged to pronounce relegation as a precautionary measure", in the absence of the necessary funds in the club's account to finance next season, the source added.

A first DNCG hearing on June 27 had granted "a stay of proceedings" amid discussions with Fenway who are looking to invest 100 million euros ($108m) over six years in the south-western outfit.

"The club is appealing this decision and now has the time necessary to finalise one of the options which will guarantee financing for next season," the Girondins said in a statement.

"As such, the project to sell a majority share of the capital to Fenway Sports Group was presented this morning to the DNCG in the presence of its representatives and we are working, hand in hand with them within the framework of continuing negotiations."

Fenway Sports Group confirmed it has "started discussions" and is "currently studying the acquisition of FC Girondins de Bordeaux".

Bordeaux have two weeks to finalise the sale and present between 30 and 40 million euros to play in Ligue 2 for a third consecutive season.

The arrival of American investors in Bordeaux awakens bad memories among supporters of US investment fund King Street whose ownership between 2018 and 2021 precipitated the team's slump in the hierarchy of French football.

Bordeaux were relegated on administrative grounds in 2021 from Ligue 1 to Ligue 2 and in 2022 to the third division before being drafted at the last minute before the start of the season.

However Fenway, co-founded by John Henry, with a fortune estimated at more than $5 billion, is a specialist in the management of sports clubs.

The six-time French champions last won Ligue 1 in 2009.

AFP photo