Storied French soccer club Saint-Étienne said on Monday it was in exclusive talks for a sale to Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum.

The full purchase of the 1976 European Cup finalist should be ratified within weeks, the club said in a statement four days before a key end-of-season game in its push to be promoted back to the top tier.

Tanenbaum is the chairman and a minority owner of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns several major Toronto sports franchises including the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors.

He has been looking to make purchases outside of MLSE through Kilmer Group, his holding company. It was reported last week that Tanenbaum has secured a WNBA expansion franchise for the 2026 season.

“I know what Saint-Étienne represents for its community and for French football,” Tanenbaum said in the statement, calling the club from central France “the beating heart of a city and its region.”

Tanenbaum has attempted to enter the European soccer market before. In 2022 he joined with Boston Celtics owner Stephen Pagliuca and former captain John Terry in a failed bid to buy London-based Premier League club Chelsea.

Saint-Étienne is a 10-time champion of France, though not since 1981, when its star player was French great Michel Platini. Its 41,000-seat stadium is one of the venues for the men’s and women’s soccer tournaments at the Paris Olympics.

The pending deal was announced as Saint-Etienne prepares to end the second-tier regular season needing to win at Quevilly on Friday to stay in contention for a runner-up finish.

Saint-Étienne, which was relegated two years ago, is assured of at least a third-place finish and entry into a promotion playoffs bracket involving four teams.

The club said it wanted to “ensure an ambitious future” with a new owner that was “trusted, experienced and financially solid.”

Saint-Étienne said the deal was being negotiated for Kilmer by Ivan Gazidis, the former CEO of Arsenal and Inter Milan.

With files from The Canadian Press