Mourad Boudjellal is again looking for a buyer for Top 14 club Toulon, according to reports in the French media.
He has instructed Didier Poulmaire – who helped US billionaire Frank McCourt buy French top-flight soccer outfit Olympique de Marseille – and global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG to find a buyer for his stake in the club by 2019, economic magazine Challenges said.
Poulmaire is responsible for ‘enhancing the Toulon brand’. He is behind a club bid to buy its training centre from local authorities in the blue-collar port town on the Mediterranean coast of France. And he is also said to be considering funding overseas academies.
It is the second time in little more than a year that Boudjellal has sought to divest himself of the club he has owned since 2006.
In September 2016, he was close to selling-up to cinema producer and medical logistics industry executive Gérard Barba – but walked away from the deal. Boudjellal’s decision to stay on was prompted by a direct appeal from then FFR presidential candidate Bernard Laporte, Challenges says.
That decision would cost him dearly. Earlier this year, he dug deep into his own pockets to bail the club out of a reported €2million hole in their finances that could have seen them busted down to the second-tier ProD2. As a result, he increased his stake in the club from 51% to 93%.
Boudjellal is rather less optimistic a year after he was persuaded to stay on. “We are in a collectivist system marked by large operating deficits and declining enthusiasm. The Top 14 must find a new development model,” he is on record as saying.
Boudjellal took charge at Toulon in 2006, back when the club was languishing in the ProD2 with a clearly stated ambition to return the then four-time French champions to their former glories. During his time in charge, the club has won the ProD2 title, the Top 14 Bouclier de Brennus and a hat-trick of European titles.
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