Villas-Boas takes Marseille back to the Champions League, but doubts remain about the future
MARSEILLE: The decision to end the French Ligue 1 Early season brought celebrations in Marseille, which they hope to return to the Champions League thanks to the excellent work done by the coach Andre Villas-Boas But it remains to be seen if he will stay in a club with big financial problems.
Marseille came in second when the season was suspended in mid-March with 10 games remaining. They were far behind the Paris Saint-Germain leaders, but they were far from the persecution group, so no one disputes that they are worthy finalists after the French government dashed hopes that the campaign would restart.
In an Instagram post, Villas-Boas called it an "extraordinary achievement". Marseille have not been in the Champions League since 2013, but they had finished fifth last season under Rudi Garcia and Villas-Boas knew he was arriving at a club with little money to spend.
He had to do without Marseille's best player, winger Florian Thauvin, for most of the season due to injury, but the Portuguese has breathed new life into the careers of Dimitri Payet and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
In addition, he has brought out the best of those new faces that entered, such as the Spanish defender Álvaro González and the former Boca Juniors forward, Dario Benedetto.
The former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach has rebuilt his own reputation by reviving a club that is wildly popular across France and remains the country's only winners of the Champions League having taken the inaugural edition in 1993.
Now, a decade after they last won Ligue 1, they are heading back to Europe's top table, but their ability to compete with the continent's best is in doubt because of their financial situation, and there is uncertainty surrounding Villas-Boas's future as a result .
I am very happy in Marseille. I don't want to find another club. I don't want to go back to the Premier League, the 42-year-old said on RMC radio from his native Portugal, where he has been spending lockdown.
"I obviously want to go into the Champions League with Marseille, but...if the conditions are not there for us to do a good job, I don't think it's worth it."
The spending since US tycoon Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, bought the club in 2016 has gone far beyond the limits set out in the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules.
They lost 91 million euros ($ 98 million) last season and that will be compounded by additional losses this season, made worse by the coronavirus crisis.
UEFA announced in March that Marseille had been referred to the award chamber of its Club Financial Control Body for failing to comply with an agreement to balance its books.
The club had already signed a settlement agreement stating that Marseille would have to play with a small team in its next European campaign and return up to four million euros of any cash prize.
Now further sanctions are inevitable, with sports daily L'Equipe suggesting they could even be excluded from the next Champions League .
When I bought OM, I knew there would be ups and downs, McCourt said recently, emphasizing his long-term vision.
With a salary bill last season of 127 million euros, Marseille must sell players and wants those who remain to accept salary cuts. Villas-Boas says he needs a competitive team if he wants to stay.
He also wants to be sure that sports director Andoni Zubizarreta, the former Barcelona and Spain goalkeeper, stays on before committing to a second season at the Velodrome, even if he's settled on France's Mediterranean coast.
I want to understand more or less where we are going, how much we can invest. Whether the club wants me or not, in which case it won't be a problem, said Villas-Boas, who is returning to France next week.