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Is Olympique de Marseille (OM) on the Verge of Being Acquired by the Public Investment Fund (PIF)?

Julien Farhat

Olympique de Marseille OM Public Investment Fund PIF
Olympique de Marseille OM Public Investment Fund PIF

Last Friday, David Berger, an iconic figure in sports journalism (Canal +), has unveiled a scoop that could transform the fate of OM. This revelation coincides with resurfacing rumours surrounding the possibility of OM's acquisition by Saudi Arabia's PIF. While this scoop brings exciting possibilities for OM and French football, it also sparks questions about the feasibility of this operation, given its potential impact on club ownership and the broader football landscape.


I- Advantages:


On the club level:


· Reviving the Ligue 1 Classique Rivalry: With Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) under QSI ownership, the PSG vs. OM rivalry has been dominated by PSG (22 wins out of 28 games since 2012). The acquisition could revive this historic clash, adding excitement to Ligue 1.


· European Success: OM has experienced a notable downturn in European competitions since their last title triumph in 2010. Over the past 13 seasons, they managed to secure qualification for the UEFA Champions League (UCL) on just six occasions, with a less impressive record of advancing beyond the group stages only twice. With PIF's backing, OM may have the resources to compete in Europe once more, potentially enhancing their Champions League prospects.


· Attracting Star Players: A well-funded OM can attract top talent, enhancing the quality of the squad and making the team more competitive.


For the League:


· Increased TV Broadcasting Rights: New star signings at OM would make Ligue 1 more attractive for viewers, potentially compensating for the loss of star players like Messi and Neymar.


· Boosting France's UEFA Coefficient: Stronger performances by French clubs in European competitions, facilitated by OM's resurgence, can improve France's UEFA coefficient, leading to more European competition slots for French teams.


· Increased Competitive Balance: The financial backing from the PIF would allow OM to challenge PSG's dominance in Ligue 1. A more competitive domestic league can pique the interest of fans, both locally and internationally, as the title race becomes more exciting and unpredictable.

Moreover, as we delve into the potential impact of the acquisition, it's worth considering the notable success story of another club under PIF's ownership.


The Newcastle United Experience:


· Drawing from the positive impact of the PIF's acquisition of Newcastle United, there's a precedent for the PIF successfully improving a club's standing and performance. PIF managed to engineer a remarkable return to the champions league after a prolonged 20 years of absence.


II- Questions Related to the Feasibility of the Operation:


1- UEFA Guidelines for Clubs Owned by the Same Entity:


· UEFA's strict guidelines on club ownership and conflicts of interest need to be carefully considered. The participation of both OM and Newcastle United in the same European competition could potentially violate these regulations, leading to penalties and financial sanctions.


2- Ownership of Two Historic Clubs, a unique challenge:


· Acquiring both Newcastle United and OM, two clubs with significant histories and passionate fan bases, poses a unique challenge. Balancing the interests and resources for both clubs would require strategic planning.


3- The Evolution of the Saudi Pro League (SPL):


· The growth and attractiveness of the SPL raise questions about the PIF's concrete plan for owning European football clubs. Is the objective to forge partnerships with European clubs, potentially influencing transfers, collaborations, and talent development?


In conclusion, the acquisition of OM by the PIF presents exciting possibilities for the club, the league, and French football. However, it also brings forth substantial challenges related ownership regulations, managing two prominent clubs simultaneously, and the overarching objectives of the PIF within the European football landscape. The outcome of this potential acquisition will depend on how these challenges are navigated and resolved.

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