The mayor of Bordeaux told reporters on Friday that the city is in contact with two potential buyers for the famous Girondins Bordeaux football club after the shock announcement that its American owners wanted to pull the plug.
American investment fund King Street said on Thursday it was divesting itself of Bordeaux because of "the economic context linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and the withdrawal of (broadcast group) Mediapro (which) caused an unprecedented drop in revenues for French football clubs."
The announcement came as a huge shock to the city whose club was founded in 1881 and is one of the cornerstones of the French game, prompting fears that it could disappear altogether.
While King Street has appointed an administrator to seek out new investment, Bordeaux mayor Pierre Hurmic said the city is "involved in the choice of the future buyer" of the club.
He said the buyer would need to show an "attachment to the club, a love of football and a desire for it to be a part of the community".
"The town hall of Bordeaux has a vision of what a club in the city should be," said Hurmic.
"Les Girondins will celebrate their 140th anniversary this year, they are part of our heritage, part of the soul of the city of Bordeaux."
Hurmic, who voted against the takeover while in opposition in September 2018, named the two potential buyers as local businessman Pascal Rigo and Switzerland-based entrepreneur Bruno Fievet.
"There are perhaps others," said Hurmic who described King Street as a "political, economic, sporting but also ethical failure in the management of the club".
King Street's decision to pull out marked a bad week for American investors in European football as investment bank JPMorgan, which agreed to financially back the doomed Super League, said Friday it had "clearly misjudged" the failed project's impact.
- 'Scandal' -
"This is what can happen," club legend Alain Giresse told RMC, when asked if Bordeaux could go to the wall completely.
The former France midfielder claimed the outfit have been "betrayed by people who are totally incompetent in the field of football and who did not come here to play sports but to do business."
Other former players such as Christophe Dugarry and Bixente Lizarazu also went public on the King Street decision.
"I am at the same time disgusted, sad and relieved," said former striker Dugarry while Lizarazu described it as a "scandal".
Bordeaux are currently fifth bottom of the Ligue 1 table, eight points above the relegation zone.
Thirty years ago they were relegated from the top-flight for administrative reasons.
King Street said they had invested 46 million euros ($55 million) since splashing out 100 million euros for the club in 2018.
Bordeaux have won six French league titles, the last of which came in 2009, four French Cups and the League Cup on three occasions.
In 1996, they were runners-up in the UEFA Cup.