Marseille: Marseille have been plunged into crisis just six weeks into the new season as coach Marcelino Garcia Toral left the French giants on Wednesday while the club's president was reportedly considering walking away too after an angry encounter with supporters.
The club said in a statement that the confrontation on Monday “prevents Marcelino and his coaching staff from being able to do their job in good conditions”.
“As a consequence of this deplorable situation, Marcelino and his staff will not pursue their work at Olympique de Marseille,“ the statement added.
The former Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao coach, aged 58, was only appointed in June to succeed Igor Tudor, who had led the 1993 Champions League winners to a third-place finish in Ligue 1 last season.
Marseille are unbeaten five games into the new domestic season but supporters were furious with their insipid performance in drawing 0-0 with Toulouse at the weekend.
They went out of the Champions League in the third qualifying round, losing on penalties to Panathinaikos and dropping into the Europa League instead.
Marcelino's departure comes after a meeting on Monday at the club's training centre between management and supporters groups.
“Supporters’ representatives expressed their wish to see the club’s current management team resign,“ Marseille said in an earlier statement, claiming that the fan groups threatened “war” if that did not happen.
“The management of OM cannot accept personal threats”, the club said, or “a relationship based on intimidation”.
Marcelino referred to those alleged threats in a statement of his own published on Wednesday evening.
“The intimidation and attacks against the president and directors, when the season is only five games old, suggest the future is uncertain,“ he said.
Club president Pablo Longoria and three of his closest colleagues all decided late on Tuesday “to step back” from their roles and would “consider their positions”, a source with knowledge of the situation told AFP.
Longoria has a close relationship with his fellow Spaniard Marcelino, both of whom come from the northern region of Asturias.
Sources said Longoria and his colleagues were “shocked” by the language used by the supporters groups.
But the leaders of two Marseille supporters' clubs denied they had demanded Marcelino's exit.
“At no time did we make death threats or ask for Marcelino’s resignation,“ said Rachid Zeroual and Christian Castaldo, heads of the South Winners and Dodgers fan groups.
Longoria was appointed by Marseille's American owner Frank McCourt in January 2021 after angry supporters furious with then president Jacques-Henri Eyraud stormed the club's training ground.
The latest developments come at a disastrous time for the club, who face Ajax in Amsterdam in the Europa League on Thursday and then travel to face their bitter rivals Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.
Jacques Abardonado, a Marseille-born former player and youth coach at the club, will take charge of the team against Ajax.
He has been put in interim charge along with David Friio, the club's sporting director. - AFP