The Spanish leader of Olympique de Marseille stated on Friday, September 22nd that he will continue to be the president of the club despite the ongoing crisis with certain supporter groups.
Les soutiens reçus depuis quatre jours lui ont redonné « de l’énergie » et Pablo Longoria a donc décidé vendredi de rester aux commandes de l’OM, mais la situation de ses plus proches collaborateurs n’a pas été éclaircie et l’opposition d’une partie des supporters reste vivace.
« I am reenergized by all of this support and have decided to continue my mission as president of OM, » stated the leader during a lengthy declaration read in front of journalists. « I will be in Paris on Sunday » for the clash of the 6th matchday of Ligue 1 against PSG, added Longoria, who was absent the previous day in Amsterdam for his team’s debut in the Europa League against Ajax (3-3).
Comme trois autres dirigeants de l’OM – le directeur du football Javier Ribalta, le directeur financier Stéphane Tessier et le directeur général Pedro Iriondo -, l’Espagnol avait décidé du prendre du recul après une réunion extrêmement tendue lundi, lors de laquelle les représentants des groupes de supporters ont demandé leur départ.
He explained on Friday that he had « a very long conversation with (the club owner) Frank McCourt and the board of directors » who, he continued, « expressed unconditional support to me ». He also expressed being « touched by the wave of popular support and the expressions of affection and trust from all sides, players, supporters, actors in the economic and political world, institutions… Everyone who understood the need for a change. »
« Inadmissible ! Inadmissible ! »
He received further proof on Friday evening when he left the Commanderie, the training center of OM, after reading his statement. There, he was greeted by about twenty supporters who had displayed a banner saying « Support for OM ». Among them, as well as among a large portion of Marseille supporters, Longoria remains popular and seen as an effective leader. However, there is still a divide with several important supporter groups, those who strongly demanded his resignation on Monday.
Longoria declined to comment on « what happened on Monday, which is unacceptable!, unacceptable! » He added, « We should be able to work like a normal club. » In an interview with La Provence on Thursday, he mentioned « threats. » On Friday, Longoria further clarified that he had « asked (his) lawyers to file a complaint regarding what happened. »
The Spanish does not want to « fuel conflict » but « simply put an end to behaviors so that this type of situation does not happen again. » While he announced his intention to « gather local actors starting next week » to « support him in his reflection, » the president of OM did not extend a hand to his opponents, led by Rachid Zeroual, the leader of the South Winners.
Quel entraîneur ?
Dans un communiqué commun, signé par six des sept groupes représentés au Stade Vélodrome, ceux-ci avaient maintenu et détaillé certaines de leurs accusations jeudi, pointant des « dérives inquiétantes », notamment dans la gestion du centre de formation.
Despite Longoria’s decision, the crisis at OM remains unresolved, especially since Friday’s events did not clarify the situations of Ribalta, Iriondo, and Tessier, who have not yet revealed their intentions. On Friday, only Iriondo, a longtime friend of Longoria, was present during the Asturian’s statement.
The coach’s question is also not resolved. Following Monday’s meeting, as well as a failed start to the season, Marcelino, who arrived this summer, has indeed left OM. On Thursday in Amsterdam, Jacques « Pancho » Abardonado sat on the bench. Sunday (8:45 pm) at Parc des Princes, the adversity will be completely different against Paris SG. Pablo Longoria will therefore be present and Abardonado presumably as well. As for the rest, OM has not yet emerged from the uncertainty.