Unprofessional Foul


July 1, 2011

I Root for Qatar Saint-Germain

The new club logo?

What does it mean to support a team? In the end, we’re just rooting for laundry.

Seinfeldian wisdom notwithstanding, most of us live and die (well, not literally) with our clubs and we agonize over changes in personnel and ownership.

Considering the fun we’ve had at Manchester City’s expense around here after their purchase by Sheikh Mansour (Manchester Arabia, anyone?), it comes now that I get my comeuppance.

Announced way back in May, the sale of a 70% stake in Paris Saint-Germain has finally been completed to Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), run by Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

The deal is worth €50M, which covers an estimated €15-20M in debt and losses of €19M (French link) from the past season. American company Colony Capital retains a 29% stake in the club, with Butler Capital Partners controlling the remaining 1% (the official supporter’s association has a titular stake in the club). With that structure, Colony Capital only receives €10M in the sale and CEO Sebastien Bazin loses his seat on the PSG board.

Prince Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (the heir apparent) is the de facto owner of the club, and there are rumours that he has offered a transfer budget of €100-160M (French link). In even more good news for the club, the French Sports Ministry has pledged €10M towards the redevelopment of the Parc des Princes in anticipation of the site hosting numerous Euro 2016 matches.

Interestingly, QSI president Al-Khelaifi is also the owner of Al-Jazeera sport, which just wrapped up a deal for Friday and Sunday broadcasts of Ligue 1 matches. Given that QSI splashed €170m for a Barcelona sponsorship last October, it is clear that they are looking to become a player on football’s (and perhaps the political) world stage.

As a signal of intent, the club has already made two relatively high-profile transfers. In light of the retirement of netminder Gregory Coupet and the inconsistency of backup Apoula Edel, the club went out and signed Stade Rennais goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez on a free. The 31 year-old made 107 saves in 37 matches for Rennes, picking up 1 RC along the way, and he is generally regarded as one of the better “gardien de but” in Ligue 1. Perhaps more importantly, PSG also signed newly-capped international striker Kevin Gameiro, who was 2nd in Ligue 1 with 22 goals last season.

There is surely more to come, as Al-Khelaifi has stated that he is looking to sign “the next Messi.”

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The NY Kid