Marseille to play first home game at Montpellier
24 July 2014, 23:44
Marseille - Olympique Marseille will play their first home game of the Ligue 1 season at Montpellier after failing to agree with local authorities on a "reasonable" rent, the club said on Thursday.
Marseille have been threatening to walk away from the Stade Velodrome since the end of June after the local council raised the rent to 381,000 euros ($513,200) from the 50,000 euros the club were paying during renovation work ahead of Euro 2016.
"After the failure of the last negotiations with the town hall to find a reasonable agreement for the Stade Velodrome rent, the management has decided that the team will not play in Marseille," the club said in a statement posted on their website (www.om.net).
The nine-time French champions, who are hoping to rediscover some magic under new Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, will now play their first home game on Aug. 17 against Montpellier at their opponents' ground, about 170 km west of Marseille.
"We tried everything from our side to allow the Marseille fans to come and support their team in the Stade Velodrome, but the radical position of the council has left us no choice, but to take this painful decision," Marseille's chief executive Philippe Perez said.
"It is, sadly, our only option to preserve the vital interests of Marseille, which cannot and will never pay what the town hall is asking for," he said.