The decision to end the Ligue 1 season early brought celebrations in Marseille, who are looking forward to a return to the Champions League thanks to the fine work done by manager Andre Villas-Boas, but it remains to be seen if he will stay at a club with major financial problems.
Olympique de Marseille were second when the season was suspended in the middle of March with 10 games remaining. They were well behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, but well clear of the chasing pack, so nobody disputes that they are worthy runners-up after the French government dashed hopes of the campaign restarting.
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 arguably Marseille’s best player, winger Florian Thauvin, for almost the whole campaign because of injury, but the Portuguese has breathed new life into the careers of Dimitri Payet and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
In addition, he has got the best out of those new faces who did come in, like Spanish defender Alvaro Gonzalez and ex-Boca Juniors striker Dario Benedetto.
The former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur coach has rebuilt his own reputation by reviving a team who are wildly popular across France and remain 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’ future as a result.
“I am very happy in Marseille. I don’t want to look for another club. I don’t want to go back to the Premier League,” the 42-year-old told 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.”
Spending since American tycoon Frank McCourt bought the club in 2016 has been way beyond the limits set out in UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
UEFA in March announced that Marseille had been referred to the adjudicatory chamber of their Club Financial Control Body for not complying with an agreement to balance their books.
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