Pacific Media Group (PMG) have seen another one of their sides relegated. The group, which owns Oostende, Barnsley, AS Nancy and FC Thun has seen the majority of the sides relegated under their ownership. For Oostende, this came despite a promising early start to their ownership. With Aleksander Blessin as head coach, the side finished fifth and were one of the most exciting looking teams in the league.
However, since the end of that season the club has made bad decision after bad decision. After the first Blessin season the club brought in around €8m in transfer sales, spending around €7m. However, €5m of that was spent on Mickael Biron, who played for AS Nancy as was sent back there on loan. The striker never played for Oostende and is currently with RWDM in the second tier, a side in pole position to get promoted to the Pro League. Biron was just one of a number of players that the club signed and then loaned out to their French team, causing much frustration amongst the Oostende fanbase as their side was used to funnel players to France.
Thankfully, the side kept Blessin to start the season. However, when the German departed for Genoa in January 2022, the club went for Yves Vanderhaeghe, a coach with a very different style of play to the former head coach. Vanderhaeghe kept the side in the league, finishing in in 14th place. Yet it was clear at the end of the season that if the side wanted to be back in the same situation that they had been in during the 2020/2021 season, they would need to bring in more quality.
Starting the 2022/2023 season however, PMG barely invested in the squad. Sales of Arthur Theate, Biron and a handful of other players brought in €9m, putting overall income under PMG at around €16m. According to Transfermarkt, the club only spent €250k, which includes January signing’s. Some remain undisclosed, but when you look down the list of transfers it makes for some poor reading. Only Fraser Hornby, on loan and clearly of higher quality than a Belgian relegation battle, has been a consistent difference maker. Tatsuhiro Sakamoto has shown glimpses of what he can do, but his end product remains a work in progress.
Yet it is in defence that the biggest mistakes have been made. The back three under Blessin of Jack Hendry, Theate and Anton Tanghe was well balanced and one of the best in the league. Only Tanghe remains, and the replacements that have been brought in have been inferior. Cypriot international Fanos Ketelaris has been out of favour for months, while winter signings Matej Rodin and Mateo Barac have been part of a defence that has shipped nine goals in the past two must win matches. Tension has been running high within the squad as well, with a players strike taking place in the run-up to their game against OH Leuven.
Unsurprisingly, this season has brought the anger of Oostende fans to focus squarely on the PMG ownership. The poor reinvestment from player sales has been highlighted, while the bizarre situation of Biron, who was sold for half of what they initially bought him for, has caused anger. Furthermore, it was revealed that the club were failing to pay staff and suppliers, with hotels denying the club bookings because payments were not being made or being done so late.
PMG are looking to sell the club, but after relegation was confirmed after a 4-0 defeat to OH Leuven at the weekend, the attractiveness of the club will have certainly diminished. That is not to say that those in the second tier haven’t attracted some form of investment. Lommel are part of the City Group, while RWDM are owned by Lyon and Crystal Palace owner John Textor.
Anyone that does decide to invest will certainly have the support of the fanbase, who are desperate to see the back of the disastrous PMG ownership.