“Why would you want to buy OM?
It’s a long story. It is not the first time that I discuss with OM, there were already some reconciliations in 1991, in 2000, at the time by my real estate development company in Cannes. OM would be the engine of a larger project. It is the only French club that has won this Champions League. And in joy, people get closer and closer, this happiness of victory is the locomotive of tolerance.
Can you detail your “Mediterranean” project?
Marseille, a multi-millennial city, is an entrance to the Mediterranean to develop these football, culture and political projects. (…) Our project has its source in the diversity of the Mediterranean basin, a current of diversity and tolerance inviting the 500 million women and men of our intercontinental sea to sail together towards the Marseille city to share a passionate happiness around the virtues of sport and youth. It is a humanitarian, social but also economic project, intended to flourish at the very heart of the Vélodrome stadium. Honor our motto: Straight to the point.
“OM is on a crusade, a crusade for peace”
Do you dream of a team made up of players from all over the Mediterranean?
If we find players from all the countries around the Mediterranean, why not, of course, but we can start with the young people from these different countries and train them, create a football nursery for the Mediterranean. All together in the same class and to touch the same balloons, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze, atheists, those without religion … When I was a child, in Gabès (Tunisia), we were all mixed , Muslims, Jews, Christians, Maltese … It’s the mix that I’m looking for OM, it’s a childhood dream.
What role do Saudi funds play?
The club will not have the Saudi flag. It’s not as simple, the media says: ” The Saudis arrive and will fight against the Qataris of the PSG ”. In the round table, the Saudis and the Emiratis will not exceed the majority, there will be companies from all over the Mediterranean basin without exclusion. Since the news came out, great decision-makers have wanted to ride this wave, but we are there for tolerance, to live together. I have no friends, no enemies. Olympique de Marseille is on a crusade, a crusade for peace. I’m an anti-Islam political, I own a TV channel (Al-Janoubiya) who fights against political Islam. These fundamentalists of all kinds do not give us a gift, they try to marginalize my position. I am for an Islam in a secular Republic, I do not put my religion above the Republic.
OM repeats that it is not for sale. Where are the negotiations at?
Everything is for sale and everything is to buy. If we have advanced, it is possible. But we want it to be done with great precision. We have been preparing for a while. We don’t throw ourselves into the fray like that.
“I am not the luggage carrier of the Saudis”
Can’t we talk about numbers?
Yes, but what does it mean to speak about numbers? The former owner (Robert Louis-Dreyfus) spent, what, around 350 M €? And his wife Margarita collected 45 M € at the exit … I do not want to flare up, but be sure that we will invest, put money in the club to develop it. We have assembled a circle of willing men to work.
What is your role in the operation?
When I read everything that is said, that I am only an intermediary … I am an industrialist, I have never been an intermediary, big companies like Suez know it. I put in cash, energy, time, I am not the intermediary of anyone. Redeeming OM is our idea with my team, I am not the suitcase carrier for the Saudis, the Kuwaitis or anyone else on this earth.
When are you going to make your offer?
Before making an offer through an investment bank, we need to know the liabilities and the assets, we are not going to make a blind offer. Common sense people work together. We work with two leading investment banks, including one in France, which we cannot name for the moment.
Have you met Frank McCourt?
Not yet directly, but there are discussions. You can’t make a deal through the press, it can only raise the auction. But we are ready. He sells if he agrees, in all cases we remain friends, it is a gentlemen’s agreement. When it is ready to sell, we are ready and our team takes over. If a ship is caught in the storm, it must find a harbor to shelter … “