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Bahrain buys 20% stake in 2nd-division French club Paris FC

PARIS (AP) — The country of Bahrain has bought a minority stake of 20% in second-division French club Paris FC with its sovereign wealth fund. With its new investment, Paris FC hopes to achieve promotion to the first division within three seasons and to make the women's team among the best in France.

“The transaction was carried out through an increase in capital shares to strengthen the club's own capital and allowing sovereign funds to own 20 percent," Paris FC said Monday in a statement. “On top of this investment, Bahrain becomes the club's main sponsor with the objective of increasing the country's image.”

Explore Bahrain will be the sponsorship name. Paris FC chairman Pierre Ferracci will remain the main shareholder with a 77% stake. Paris FC finished 17th in the second division last season and narrowly avoided relegation. The new campaign starts on Aug. 22.

The club’s youth academy will also be expanded in a bid to develop more players from the sizeable Paris region, while the French club will help oversee the development of young players in Bahrain. Paris FC added that it expects further foreign and domestic investment over the coming months.

Veteran coach Jean-Marc Nobilo will run the club's academy. He won the second division with Le Havre and was voted the league's best coach that year. Nobilo also won the French Cup at youth level with Auxerre in 2015.

Bahrain has hosted a Formula One race since 2004 and is a shareholder in the McLaren team. Qatari investors QSI bought French champion Paris Saint-Germain nine years ago.

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