Financier Lopez Reaches Deal to Save Football Club FC Girondins de Bordeaux

Financier Gerard Lopez has reached a deal to rescue FC Girondins de Bordeaux, a top European soccer club, from going bust.

U.S. owner King Street Capital Management and Fortress Investment Group -- which provided financing to the club -- agreed to the Luxembourg-based businessman’s plan to save the club, the team said in a statement on Twitter. The deal still needs to be approved by the Direction Nationale du Contrôle de Gestion.

The club went into administration in April, when King Street refused to inject more cash and began working with Rothschild & Co. to find a buyer. It needed at least 100 million euros ($119 million) of fresh investment to avoid financial collapse, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The team was home to some of the country’s most celebrated players, including Zinedine Zidane, who led the national team to a World Cup victory in 1998.

Lopez’s deal comes just a few months after he sold Lille’s club under pressure from creditors, French media reported. He has been investing in sports -- from soccer to Formula One -- for years, according to media reports. His offer trumped that of Didier Quillot, a former executive director of the French Professional League, who had sought an additional investment from King Street.

European soccer clubs have been struggling amid the loss of matchday revenues because of Covid, finding themselves increasingly dependent on TV rights. The Premier League, Europe’s richest, saw revenue plunge by about 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) in the 2019/20 season, according to a recent report from Deloitte & Touche LLP.

Financial pressures have been even more acute in France after the league lost a lucrative broadcast contract last year.

Soccer TV producer and broadcaster Mediapro, which is also in talks with its lenders to restructure its debt, handed back TV rights to the French league after paying only the first installment of a multi-year contract. That will result in a 500 million-euro yearly shortfall for Ligue 1, the fifth largest in Europe in terms of revenues, according to people familiar with the matter.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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