Bordeaux (AFP) – French billionaire Francois Pinault called on his fellow vineyard owners to save Bordeaux football club on Monday.

The Ligue 1 outfit based in the world famous grape-growing region which produces wines such as Saint-Emilion and Medoc, has been put under the financial control of the city’s mayor after its US owners withdrew their investment last week.

Pinault, who is already the majority shareholder of another Ligue 1 club, Rennes, and is therefore unable to make a takeover bid, owns Chateau Latour, located to the north of Bordeaux.

“I have been associated for 30 years with Bordeaux life, with Chateau Latour, and I think the existence of this famous club is important to Bordeaux, its influence and its balance that all the wine owners can only identify with,” he wrote in an open letter.

“What is the economic force that, in this region, can aim to save Bordeaux and develop it? The world of wine, and particularly the owners of grand crus,” he added.

On Friday, Bordeaux mayor Pierre Hurmic said he was in contact with two potential buyers.

Hurmic, who voted against the US takeover while in opposition in September 2018, named the pair as local businessman Pascal Rigo and Switzerland-based entrepreneur Bruno Fievet, but neither have links to the wine industry.

Bordeaux have won the French championship six times, but their last title came in 2009 and they currently lie 16th in Ligue 1, four points above the relegation zone.