before the top game against PSG, Lille enters an uncertain “new era”

On the ground, Lille, who celebrates here a goal by Yusuf Yazici against Monaco, is leader of Ligue 1.

“The acrobat of financing” missed his landing. And in his wake, all of Lille is destabilized. The spicy nickname awarded last June by the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Noël Le Graët, to Gérard Lopez seems more relevant than ever, after the now ex-owner of the Lille Olympique Sporting Club (LOSC) announced, Friday, December 18, to have sold the northern club to investment fund Merlyn Partners, confirming information published in The team.

Read also Ligue 1: Gérard Lopez sold the Lille football club

Four years after having bought Lille and launched an ambitious project based on trading talented young players – sold with large capital gains – Gérard Lopez left the presidency of the Mastiffs without having much choice. The investment fund Elliott Management, which had financed its buyout of the club – with several loans of around 225 million euros -, took over and placed a new management at the head of the club. Believing that the economic situation was not favorable to the recovery of the finances of the LOSC – the significant deficit -, in particular because of the pandemic linked to the coronavirus and the withdrawal of Mediapro, Elliott, as often, forced the hand of his debtor. A palace revolution a few days before a crucial match for Lille.

We can be leader of Ligue 1 – supplanted by Lyon after the victory of Gones on Saturday against Nice (4-1) -, qualified for the 16es Europa League final by developing an attractive game, and diving into the unknown. While they thought that the preparation for the shock of this end of the first half of the season, Sunday, December 20, against Paris-Saint-Germain, would focus all eyes, the Lille saw the attention shift to the administration of LOSC.

“De facto, the end of an era”

” The reasons [de ce changement de direction], I do not know them “, said Christophe Galtier on Wednesday, after the victory of his people in Dijon (2-0). The northerner technician dedicated his hundredth meeting on the Lille bench to Gérard Lopez, the president who had gone to look for him three years ago to save a club then threatened with relegation, acting “De facto, the end of an era”. And while his team is fueled to the point of now being among the contenders for the title in Ligue 1, the technician must focus his players on the field.

Players, most of whom arrived at the initiative of Luis Campos, the gray eminence of Gérard Lopez and protagonist of the strategy of trading of LOSC, which left the North with its president. “We have very good relations with MM. Gérard Lopez and Campos, greeted the Lille captain, José Fonte, at a press conference on Saturday. But we all know what’s going on in this environment. We must accept it and continue to do our work. “

Read also: In Lille, Luis Campos, screenwriter in the shadows

“The world of football, like other sectors, adapts in a Darwinian way to the law of the strongest, that of the one who pays the most”, noted Gérard Lopez last spring, in an interview with World. If he spoke then of the consequences of the crisis linked to the new coronavirus on the transfer window, the neo-ex-boss of LOSC was pushed towards the exit of his club by his backers, foremost of which is the hedge fund known to have made throat several indebted states, from Argentina to Congo-Brazzaville.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Gérard Lopez: “We no longer finance a football club with a house for fries and patronage”

Last year, the same Lopez had refuted the information of Financial Times according to which the Elliott fund was about to repeat the maneuver that led it to seize AC Milan in 2018, after the sale of the mortgaged loans of Chinese shareholders Yonghong Li and Haixia Capital. Either grant a loan with “Double-digit interest rates” to a team, which would mortgage its assets in order to ensure their solvency, and then wait until the latter is unable to reimburse and recover the club free of charge.

A regular in French football now in charge

Gérard Lopez, when he took over the Lille club.

For the Spanish-Luxembourg businessman, the American fund had “Funded [le LOSC] to start a process of investing in players, creating value, selling some players, maintaining others to develop the club ”. Since then, the health context which deprives the clubs of resources, a transfer window slowed down by the crisis and the collapse of the broadcaster Mediapro have been there.

And 2020 is not 2018, where seeing the LOSC riddled with debt and threatened with sporting relegation, Gérard Lopez managed to convince Elliott Management to reinject nearly 140 million euros through his holding to avoid industrial disaster. According to information from The team, Lille has so far repaid only 102 of the 225 million euros borrowed in total; and in a jiffy, the club changed hands.

To replace Gérard Lopez, the Luxembourg holding Merlyn Partners, now at the head of the northern club, has chosen a regular in French football, Olivier Létang, former leader of PSG and Rennes – and ex-professional footballer. Ensuring to bet on stability – at the sporting level -, the one who put a course at Stade Rennes came to meet with the players on Saturday, on the eve of the shock against Paris, his former team. “He wants to do the best possible so that we continue to win. It’s easy, everyone in their place ”, breathed Captain José Fonte.

If their future is full of uncertainties, Christophe Galtier’s men know what to expect on Sunday. Opposed to the private French champion of Neymar, the Lille residents are just over ninety minutes away from assuming their status as number 1 outsider to the Parisian ogre. “We are ambitious, but not favorites. We want to continue to win, to keep first place. We are preparing for that “, assured José Fonte. For the rest, the northerner coach urged his players not to “To scatter or spend energy on something else [que le match]. We will have time, with Olivier, the new president, to talk about the project and other subjects ”. In the event of victory on their lawn at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium, Lille would start this ” new era ” – the words of Christophe Galtier – in the best possible way.

Lille-PSG, Sunday December 20 at 9 p.m., to follow live on Le


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here