Tycoon takes over at French strugglers Lille


Lille (France) (AFP) – A colourful tycoon under whom the Formula One team Lotus went bankrupt on Thursday officially became the new owner of debt-ridden French Ligue 1 club Lille.

Luxembourg-Spanish businessman Gerard Lopez, who has also been linked with a takeover of Premier League Hull City, acquired a 95-percent stake in Lille for 80 million euros ($85 million) including the club’s debts.

Currently a lowly 14th in Ligue 1, Lille won a league and cup double in 2011, kick-starting the careers of Eden Hazard, Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye.

The 45-year-old Lopez — said to have extensive business interests in Russia — takes over as club president with the deal set to be rubber-stamped by French financial watchdog, the DNCG, on Friday.

Lopez made a fortune in the field of technology but has already been involved in sport — under his leadership Lotus went bust, before being bought for a symbolic euro by Renault. 

Lille said that interim coach Patrick Collot, who took over from Frederic Antonetti in November, will likely stay on until the end of the season.

The 49-year-old steadied the side after they tumbled as low as 19th in the league, but Collot has never qualified for the Ligue 1 coaching certificate, triggering a 25,000 euro fine for every game he oversees.

“They’ve told me I’m keeping the job for the moment, if the results go well I’m staying in the job until the end of the season,” Collot said.

Former Barcelona marketing director Marc Ingla takes over as general manager.

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