For many fans of European football, Marseille are one of the established clubs that have a spot in everyone’s hearts. Almost like Roma, who’s history is surrounded by footballing greats and success, the French outfit have been a staple of history for us fans. In a saddening turn of events, Marseille are in crippling debt and are languishing mid-table in Ligue 1, after challenging for the title last season. The amount of money lost by the club means they cannot keep hold of their star players, with Andre-Pierre Gignac leaving for Mexico, and Andre Ayew and Dimitri Payet coming to the Premier League. Why has this beautiful club being allowed to fall to such a degree?
At most European giants, the Ultras have a large say in the running of the club. They dictate the passion, and at some clubs, they can even dictate who the manager is (Roma’s ultras managed to get Luis Enrique sacked because he wouldn’t play Totti). When “El Loco” Marcelo Bielsa quit after the first game of the season due to differences with the board, all hell seemed to break loose from then on. L’OM struggled to find a manager who would work under such pressure with a poor squad and no money to spend. They eventually settled on Michel, who the fans have nicknamed “Fashion Week” simply because of his style on the touchline.
Owned by Margarita Louis-Dreyfuss, the widow of former Adidas owner Robert Louis-Dreyfuss, the club has amassed an outrageous amount of debt, and decided that it would be a good idea to rebuild the main stand of the glorious Stade Velodrome, and as beautiful as it looks when it’s full (which is rare in itself), it just isn’t worth it. They have lost the core of what could have been a superb team to challenge PSG, and at what cost?
The problems at Marseille are too large to just wave a magic wand and wish for them to go away. The fans need to realise that it will take a lot of hard work and patience to get back to any kind of success. They will lose star players, and they will not be able to sign any players, and will need to rely on youth. It’s unhealthy for a powerhouse of French football floundering to the degree that L’OM are. They were. at one point, Champions of Europe, but now they can just about fill their stadium.
Watch their next home game, and it is a sad sight to see. An empty Velodrome, filled by disgruntled fans and mediocre players, with the stars knowing they will be gone soon. No wonder they’re in such a bad place.