Marseille owner breaks off takeover talks
PARIS, March 23 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille face an uncertain future after main shareholder Robert Louis-Dreyfus broke off takeover talks with Canadian businessman Jack Kachkar.
It seems unlikely, but not impossible, that Louis-Dreyfus might still reach a last-minute deal with Kachkar, who has offered 115 million euros to buy France's most prestigious club.
'The chances that the deal will take place are infinitesimal,' Marseille chairman Pape Diouf said in a statement.
'For that to happen, the buyer would have to give every guarantee that he can help the club in the future and he would have to do that in the next few hours.'
The two other options are either Louis-Dreyfus looking for another buyer or deciding he is staying on.
'We can trust the main shareholder, who has always been determined to defend the interests of the club,' Diouf said.
'Whatever happens in the near or remote future will be in the club's best interests.'
Louis-Dreyfus broke off talks with Kachkar on Thursday after the Canadian asked for a further delay to pay the 115 millions euros price that had been set for him to take over the former European champions.
Kachkar, owner of pharmaceutical company Inyx, said he had delivered financial guarantees to Louis-Dreyfus.
A spokesman for Kachkar had said on March 1 a final agreement had been reached with Louis-Dreyfus, who later said the deal would be finalised only once he received the money.
French media had questioned the personal wealth of the little-known Kachkar and had suggested that the sale could be delayed.
The French Professional Football League (LFP) had informed Marseille that it viewed Kachkar's bid unfavourably.
Many Marseille fans, tired of waiting for the glory days to return, felt it was time for a change and had heard Kachkar promise them he would keep the club's two most prominent players, France forwards Franck Ribery and Djibril Cisse.
Marseille lifted the European Cup in 1993, have won eight league titles and the French Cup a record 10 times.
They were stripped of the French championship in 1993 because of a bribery scandal.
Louis-Dreyfus took over Marseille for the symbolic sum of one franc 10 years ago. Despite putting around 170 million euros of his personal wealth into the club, he has failed to win a single trophy.
He said he wanted to sell his shares after he received a three-year suspended sentence last June for his involvement in a fraud scandal over player transfers in the late 1990s.
Marseille lie eighth in the Ligue 1 standings, 23 points off leaders Olympique Lyon, and are unlikely to play in Europe next season unless they win the French Cup. They will host Nantes in the semi-finals on April 17.