François Pinault made a passionate plea for château owners to rally round after FC Girondins de Bordeaux was put under the protection of Bordeaux’s Commercial Court. That move followed the decision by FC Bordeaux’s US owner, global investment firm King Street, to withdraw funding for the club, which has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pinault, the 84-year-old founder of luxury group Kering, is France’s third-richest man, but cannot mount a takeover bid for FC Bordeaux himself because he already owns rival Ligue 1 club Stade Rennais (Rennes).
In an open letter to fellow château owners, Pinault wrote: ‘Like all lovers of French football, I am moved by the idea of seeing FC Girondins de Bordeaux in danger of disappearing.’
He added: ‘Associated for 30 years in Bordeaux life through Château Latour, I think that the existence of this famous club Les Girondins is important for Bordeaux, its influence, its balance with which all wine owners can surely identify.
‘What is the economic force which, in this region, can try to save Les Girondins and develop them? The world of wine and, in particular, the owners of grands crus.’
Pinault’s plea has been welcomed by leading figures on the Bordeaux wine scene, including Château Pape-Clément owner Bernard Magrez, a former sponsor of FC Bordeaux through the Waïti fruit juice brand.
Speaking to Sudouest.fr, Magrez said Pinault’s idea was ‘excellent’, adding that he was ready ‘to contribute’.
Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseils des Grands Crus Classés in 1855, told Sudouest.fr that Pinault’s letter was ‘a positive message that I hope will awaken the world of wine and grands crus in Bordeaux’.
‘I hope this idea will gain ground from now on,’ he added. ‘We must take up the torch.’
Like many French football clubs, FC Bordeaux has been seriously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as by the bankruptcy of Spanish media rights agency Mediapro, which had agreed to pay €780m per season to broadcast Ligue 1 matches.
The club, six-times French champions, has lost eight of its last nine matches, and currently sits 16th in the league, only four points clear of the relegation zone.
In a quirk of the fixture list, its next match is against Pinault’s club, Rennes, this Sunday (2 May).