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 By Ian Holyman

Stade Velodrome cost irks Marseille

Marseille are preparing to complete their first fixture of the new season away from home.

Marseille have declared they will not play their home matches at the Stade Velodrome next season unless the city's municipal authorities lower their rent demands.

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Few stadia in France are owned by the clubs that play in them, and following recent renovation work to put a roof on the Stade Velodrome and transform it into a state-of-the-art 67,000-seat capacity stadium in preparation for Euro 2016, Marseille's mayor, Jean-Claude Gaudin, asked the club to pay eight million euros-a-year for the right to play in the venue.

Following a breakdown in talks to find a compromise agreement, Marseille announced they would play their first home game of the new season against Montpellier on Aug. 17 at their opponents' Stade de la Mosson ground instead.

"We have tried everything from our side to be able to allow Marseille fans to come and follow their team at the Stade Velodrome," Philippe Perez, OM's director general, said in a statement released on the club's website.

"But the radical position of the municipal authorities leaves us with no other choice than to take this painful decision. Unfortunately, it is our only option to maintain the vital interests of OM, which cannot and will never pay what the mayor's office is demanding."

L'Equipe reported on Friday that OM have already begun talks with Mediterranean neighbours Nice with a view to playing their derby at the Allianz Rivieira in late August, rather than at the Velodrome.

In a bid to resolve the impasse, RMC reported Gaudin had published a compromise proposition on his Facebook page on Thursday evening, setting rental conditions along the lines of those Lille pay to rent their new Stade Pierre Mauroy, whose capacity is only 50,000.

"These conditions set a five million euro fixed fee, a 20 percent variable fee after 17.5 million euros of ticket revenue and an 'entertainment' tax of eight percent," Gaudin wrote. "Olympique de Marseille belongs to all Marseillais, and its board must take into account this essential dimension of the club in which they have the responsibility of the whole city's name."

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