By the end of the 1979-1980 season, Olympique de Marseille fell from the top flight into the second division. It was just the Club’s third relegation in history.
The stars fled and the results were poor through the first matches. President Carlini replaced Jean Robin with Albert Batteux as coach. But things did not improve. Worse, in April 1981, the club was placed in liquidation by the Commercial Court. Les Olympien’s staff was unemployed and the players were dismissed from the club.
Roland Gransart, just 27 years old, took the reins of a Marseille team in agony and the academy, winners of the Gambardella Cup in 1979, saved the club from the disaster by finishing a very honorable sixth place. How Heroic!
The following season, Jean Carrieu took over the club and obtained a concordat to settle the club's debts. Claude Cuny was appointed manager. The squad remained practically the same and Roland Gransart was confirmed at the head of the team.
Led by his Minots, including Anigo, De Bono or Caminiti and Lopez, OM finished in a good third place, but without promotion. Les Olympiens also made a good run in the Coupe de France where they reached the Round of 16, eliminated by PSG.
The 1982-1983 season was more delicate for Marseille. Yet, led by some experienced players, it hung onto a fourth place finish in the league. It was quite the feat, especially since the Velodrome was under renovation for the Euro 1984 and the players were forced to play at the Huveaune. The public and the atmosphere were less than usual.
OM then strengthened by recruiting experienced players (Bracci, Boubacar, Kerjean, Olarevic, Rubio) and the blending between experience and the Minots took place. Les Olympien excited its supporters as the public moved in numbers to the Vélodrome and the results became very good - apart from the Coupe de France where Les Olympiens were eliminated in the round of 32. Gransart’s players finished first in D2 at the end of the 1983-1984 season and won promotion!
But the return to D1 was complicated. Disagreements and tensions multiplied within the club. Roland Gransart was sacked in October 1984 and Pierre Cahuzac succeeded him. Despite a lack of mobilization behind the new coach, the Marseillais managed to stay in up by finishing in 17th place. In the Coupe de France, Valencia - the last lower-level team left - eliminated OM in the round of 16 (1-0).
The next season had a special flavor. Les Olympiens played more attractive than the previous year but the results were still too irregular. As a result, OM finished 12th. The Marseillais still made it to the final of the Coupe de France in April 1986 but were defeated by Bordeaux (2-1). And Bernard Tapie, an ambitious French businessman, bought the OM in 1986. Tapie revolutionized the club. In his first year - punctuated by changes for the Provencal club - was a success with OM finishing second in 1986-1987.