US businessman John Textor is buying a significant stake in French Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais. Textor, who is also a Crystal Palace and Botafogo shareholder, allowed current Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas to keep a smaller part of his Lyon shares. Aulas will run the club on a daily basis, at least until 2025.
Another US millionaire, Foster Gillett, tried to buy Lyon, but negotiations stalled. Textor was confirmed as the preferred bidder by Lyon on Monday, with the takeover announced formally a day later.
Lyon will change strategy as the new ownership is intending to build a team that will challenge Paris Saint-Germain in the title race while also eyeing European success.
“We can’t imagine we’ll be PSG’s main opponent each year, but we’re taking the club to a new dimension,” Aulas said. “We have new means to develop and we’ll change our strategy. The objective is to get back at the highest level in the league and in the European Cups.”
Textor wants Lyon to become a more exciting team. “We need to start creating special moments. We need to beat our rivals more frequently. We need a combination between financial means and talent,” Textor said.
The US businessman also took aim at PSG’s business model, saying “I don’t like projects like PSG. If we continue doing what Aulas did here over the past few years, we’ll earn more money than if we had an investor from Qatar.”
Textor has big dreams big for Lyon’s future, saying he’s looking for titles and to advance on the European scene. “I want to win the Champions League and I hope we will be allowed to dream of such performances,” he said.
— Olympique Lyonnais (@OL) June 20, 2022
A new era for OL
Lyon finished eighth in Ligue 1 last season, but made a statement about its future by signing French international Alexandre Lacazette from Arsenal last week.
Textor owns 40% of Crystal Palace, a majority stake in Brazilian club Botafogo, and part of Belgian team RWD Molenbeek. The 56-year-old was the executive chairman of fuboTV, a sports-centered streaming company, and is a globally recognized digital guru. Textor is a former freestyle skateboarder.
Bookies have Lyon as the third favorite to win the Ligue 1 title next season, behind PSG and Marseille. Paris is at -1000, with Marseille at +1100 and Lyon at +1400. Lyon reached the Europa League quarterfinals last season, being eliminated by West Ham United after a 4-1 aggregate defeat.
Textor’s initial investment at Lyon will be worth $91 million, the amount he agreed to invest in player acquisitions. Excluding that, he paid $846 million to buy Lyon, according to Forbes.