Bordeaux seeks commercial protection after owners withdraw

·2 min read

BORDEAUX, France — Bordeaux placed itself under the protection of the city's commercial court on Thursday after the club's American-based owner King Street withdrew its financial support.

The struggling French first-division club said in a statement that King Street, a New York-based investment firm, “no longer wishes to support the club and finance its current and future needs."

Bordeaux said club president Frederic Longuepee turned to the commercial court for security while “a lasting solution” is found.

King Street took over the southwestern club in December 2019 and has invested €46 million ($53 million) since.

French soccer has been hit hard by the collapse of a lucrative TV deal with broadcaster Mediapro and starved of income due to empty stadiums during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The economic context linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and Mediapro's withdrawal has caused an unprecedented drop in revenues for French football clubs,” Bordeaux said. "These events are in addition to the financial consequences that already hit clubs hard last season when the championship ended (early) and the loss of income that ensued. “

Bordeaux was a standout club in the 1980s, winning four French titles, and won the last of its six in 2009. The club is captained by former Arsenal and France defender Laurent Koscielny, and also has winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

But the club is 16th in the league and only five points above 18th spot — the promotion-relegation place — with five games left.

Bordeaux Mayor Pierre Hurmic expressed his frustration at King Street's decision.

“Unfortunately it's not a great surprise for me. From the outset the takeover of the club, which I voted against in 2018, did not seem to ensure durability. That seems to have been confirmed now,” Hurmic said in a statement. "A page must to be turned. Everything has to be done to find a solution that ensures the longevity of the club. "

However, Longuepee is unpopular among supporters and the Ultramarines 1987 — an influential and long-standing fan group — demanded his “immediate departure" on its Twitter page.

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The Associated Press