Investors in the United Arab Emirates are currently in talks to buy top-tier French football club Lille, it has been reported. According to British tabloid The Sun, â€œfriendsâ€ of Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in talks with Lille chairman Michel Seydoux. Sheikh Mansour is the current owner of English Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Lille, the current defending champions of the French league, would cost in the region of Â£30 million (US $48 million) to Â£40 million, the newspaper says. Lille currently sits in third place in the French Ligue 1, seven points behind co-leaders Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain.
The team is in the process of moving into a new Â£260 million, 50,000 seat stadium in the northern France city. The development is a public/private partnership between the club and the local municipality. Under its tenancy terms, the stadium will be owned by the municipality and leased back to Lille for Â£6 million per year.
If any deal goes through, Lille would be the second top-tier team in France with Gulf backers. Paris Saint-Germain, the only major team based in the French capital, saw its previous US owners Colony Capital sell off a 70 percent stake in the club to Qatari investment vehicle Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) in May 2011. QSI bought up the remaining shares in the team earlier this month. While financial details were not disclosed, it was widely reported that the deals valued Paris Saint-Germain at â‚¬100m (US $134 million).