BORDEAUX, France (AP) — Several hundred fans of French soccer team Bordeaux protested on Saturday to call for a leadership change after the financially troubled club placed itself under the protection of the city’s commercial court.
The move for protection came on Thursday after the first-division club’s U.S.-based owner, King Street, withdrew its financial support.
Bordeaux said club president Frederic Longuepee turned to the court for security while “a lasting solution” is found.
Supporters led by the Ultramarines 1987, an influential and long-standing fan group, have demanded Longuepee’s “immediate departure.”
Supporters heeded the fan group’s call — “for the survival of the club” — to rally in the city’s downtown, where they beat drums, chanted slogans and waved flags near city hall. They billed it as a protest of “anger, pride, but also dignity.”
They claim that if Longuepee remains in charge, Bordeaux risks going the way of Strasbourg in 2011, when that Alsace-based club went into liquidation and tumbled down to the fifth division. Strasbourg eventually returned to Ligue 1.
Bordeaux said in a statement on Thursday that King Street, a New York-based investment firm, “no longer wishes to support the club and finance its current and future needs.”
King Street took over the southwestern club in December 2019 and has invested $53 million.
French soccer has been hit hard by the collapse of a lucrative TV deal with broadcaster Mediapro and starved of income due to empty stadiums during the coronavirus pandemic.
The club cited “an unprecedented drop in revenues” across French soccer.
Bordeaux was a standout club in the 1980s, winning four French titles, and won the last of its six in 2009. The club is captained by former Arsenal and France defender Laurent Koscielny, and also has winger Hatem Ben Arfa.
But the club is 16th in the league and only five points above 18th spot — the relegation-playoff spot — with five games left.