Troubled ferry workers seek French Cup solace

Amateurs AS Marck, with several players embattled in a fight to keep their jobs at cross-Channel ferry operator SeaFrance, will hope to finally find a reason to cheer when they host top-flight team Nice in a last-64 French Cup clash game on Saturday.

The Calais club's president Didier Cappelle is one of the leading union representatives trying to salvage the company after an attempt by the employees to take over through a co-operative apparently fell through this week.

Coach Eric Vercoutre is also involved in union talks and five or six players in the fifth-division side, who work either on a SeaFrance boat or in the company's offices in Calais, are expected to start Saturday's game.

"We don't want to mix football with work but both are naturally intertwined," Vercoutre told Reuters, referring to the club's former tradition of finding local jobs for the players.

"Nowadays, football is a breath of fresh air for me, for the players involved," Vercoutre added.

"At the beginning of the week I was in Paris for SeaFrance, I'm back for the training sessions and I need Saturday's game to find something to cheer about."

On Monday, a French court will decide whether SeaFrance should be put into liquidation or if the company will be granted another delay to find a new owner.

"It's Monday that's important," said Vercoutre. "It's Monday that matters. On Saturday it will only be football, just a game. On Monday some 2,000 people's future will be at stake."