Frank McCourt

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Marseille’s ‘Champions Project’ in tatters


PARIS (AP) Ridiculous Project.

Arrogant Project.

Fiasco Project.

Deficient Project.

Defeat Project.

These were some of the slogans displayed by Marseille fans last weekend at Stade Velodrome, mocking the “Champions Project” plan of American owner Frank McCourt, who aimed to return the club back to the summit of French soccer and among the European elite.

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Instead, in front of those poster-holding fans, former European champion Marseille was humiliated by Lyon 3-0 at home.

Ahead of the trip to Toulouse on Saturday, Marseille is seven points behind fourth-placed Saint-Etienne. With only two rounds left in Ligue 1, it means the club won’t even qualify for the Europa League.

Two and a half years after McCourt took over, the southern side has not lived up to expectations, and coach Rudi Garcia’s future is hanging in the balance after he failed to find the right balance in a squad featuring some brilliant individuals.

Marseille, which made it to the 2018 Europa League final but earned only one point in the group stage this season, has 13 defeats in 36 matches in the French league, has conceded 50 goals – its worst total in more than 30 years – and lost all of its matchups against the top three teams.

Constant tinkering with the lineup – Garcia fielded 41 different starting XIs in 44 matches in all competitions – to find a winning combo contributed to Marseille going backward, in sharp contrast to the club’s motto of “Straight to Goal.”

“There is no point looking for excuses,” World Cup winner Florian Thauvin said last month after a loss in Bordeaux. “We should stop fooling ourselves. We did not make a good season. And even if we qualified for the Champions League, what could we achieve? Every year it’s the same thing. We don’t win the games we need, we make too many mistakes.”

Marseille Ultras supporters, who play a major role in the running of the club, have had enough, too, and are asking for Garcia’s firing. They are also unhappy with club president Jacques Henri Eyraud, who appointed the coach when McCourt, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, launched his project of making Marseille great again, then extended Garcia’s deal to 2021.

“It’s one of the most difficult seasons of my career,” says Garcia, who seems under no illusion his time is up at the club. “But it’s part of my experience, and I’m sure I will use it in the future.”

Upon arrival at the buoyant Mediterranean city, McCourt pledged to revive Marseille by investing 200 million euros ($210 million) over four years. Large amounts of cash have been spent on Mario Balotelli, Valere Germain, and Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo. Marseille’s squad also features Lucas Ocampos, Kevin Strootman, Dimitri Payet, and Florian Thauvin, but Garcia has failed to make them gel as a team.

Thauvin has appeared unconcerned in recent weeks, and has not scored in the league in more than two months. He has repeatedly said his main goal in club football is to play the Champions League and appears bound for a transfer this summer.

Balotelli is not expected to stay either, but Marseille could struggle to find credible replacements as it remains closely monitored by UEFA in regard to financial fair play rules, and might not be allowed to spend as much as it wants.

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Ex-MLB owner McCourt buys former Champions League winners Marseille

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has completed the purchase French giants Olympique Marseille for $44 million, assuring fans he wants to restore OM to past glory.

McCourt says he’ll invest up to $220 million in the club in the next four years, according to the BBC.

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Marseille won five French titles in the late 20th century and added the 1992-93 UEFA Champions League crown. However they’ve claimed just one Ligue 1 title since 1995, causing consternation for its fan base as Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco have risen in prominence.

Off to a slow start this season, Marseille has good talent including Lassana Diarra, William Vainqueur, and Bafetimbi Gomis.


“Today opens a new chapter in the great history of Olympique de Marseille. A chapter of which I am proud and honored to be a part.

“It is now my duty to raise ourselves to the highest ranks of European football. It is an obligation and we will. We have a clear vision of success and an ambitious plan to achieve it. We have the resources and courage to invest and take decisions and necessary measures. The strategy that we set ourselves require passion, commitment and tenacity. It will take strong leadership but also, at times, patience.

“I have complete confidence in Jacques-Henri Eyraud, the new CEO of OM, in its ability to implement our plan and to ensure the success of the club. This is a great time for all supporters of OM. I invite you to join us. Together we will put our club on the road to glory.”

Big words, we’ll see if he backs them up.

Former LA Dodgers owner McCourt finalizing Marseille takeover

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This should be fun to watch.

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Billionaire American businessman Frank McCourt, 63, has agreed to buy Ligue 1 giant Marseille.

Yeah, that Frank McCourt who owned the LA Dodgers in a highly controversial stretch from 2004-12.

According to the Mayor of Marseille the deal is done with a reported fee of $45 million being suggested by RMC. If that’s the case, it is a steal for a storied franchise which has a glistening stadium to call home.

In a statement released by the club on Monday, they confirmed that an “exclusivity agreement regarding the acquisition Football Club Olympique de Marseille” had been reached between McCourt and current owner Mrs. Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.

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It was also stated that “both parties wish to complete the transaction by the end of the year” while Louis-Dreyfus stated that Marseille has “turned a page in its history” and stated that McCourt woud be “a new owner who would care for our fantastic club” and also said that he is “the best choice to succeed my family and to ensure a great future for OM.”

In the statement McCourt said the following about the potential acquisition of Marseille:

“Participating in the history of Marseille and guiding the club to success, both on the field and off, is an honor and a privilege for my family and myself. OM is both one of the oldest football clubs and most respected in the world and is also the only French club to win the UEFA Champions League. This is one of the most iconic brands in the world of sports. OM has the support of passionate legions of fans in Marseille, France and worldwide. As head of the OM my ambition is to rebuild a high-level team, to provide the best experience for football fans, to strengthen ties with the club’s supporters and the City of Marseille and to lead the club to financial stability over the long-term.”

Boston native McCourt has come in for plenty of criticism for the way he ran the LA Dodgers so it is quite right for there to be a high level of skepticism from Marseille’s fans about this takeover.

The real estate mogul will be entering one of the most passionately supported teams in Europe which has hugely demanding fans who want success now.

So often a volatile club with a high turnover of players and managers, is McCourt ready to become the latest American billionaire to take over a huge European soccer team?

We will find out. Like I said, this should be fun…