Saudi Prince lines up multi-million dollar Marseille takeover deal

Middle East Football Matters
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, waves as he arrives at the headquarters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Saud is interested in buying French football giants Olympique Marseille, according to reports.

Respected French daily L'Equipe claims the 59-year-old business and philanthropist, worth an estimated $30bn, is ready to launch a takeover bid in the region of $125m for l'OM.

A buy-out of the club has long been rumoured since the death of owner Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 2009, although his widow Margarita Louis-Dreyfus continues to insist she is committed to the cause.

Only recently she said on the subject of a proposed sale: "Today there is no credible candidate able to commit to the level of our competitors. And I will not give the club to someone who makes promises he can not keep."

That stance could be tested though by Alwaleed's reported interest with Marseille finding it increasingly difficult to match the spending power of bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain.

 

While the club have enjoyed a great start to season under new boss Marcelo Bielsa, topping the table a point ahead of PSG, off the field things are not as rosy.

Alwaleed's huge wealth - he is ranked as the 30th richest man in the world - would certainly be welcomed by a club that has underachieved in recent seasons.

Alwaleed has never hidden his passion for sport and only recently hit the headlines after pledging over SR1 million to Al Hilal players and staff if they won the 2014 AFC Champions League final.

However, the Saudi giants failed to collect their bounty after losing the two-legged showpiece to Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 on aggregate.

OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE: WHO ARE THEY?

- Founded in 1899, the club have been French champions 10 times and also won the Coupe de France a record 10 times.

- Became the first and only French club to win the UEFA Champions League in 1993, only to be caught up in a bribery scandal 12 months later that saw them relegated and stripped of their league title, but crucially, not the European Cup.

- Their stadium is called the Stade Velodrome which has been their home since 1937 and holds a capacity crowd of 67,000.