Jean-Michel Aulas : "We will bring our expertise and our passion to this project"
It was in the works for some time, and it is now official: Olympique Lyonnais has decided to invest in Reign FC, a club in the National Women’s Soccer League. A founding member of the professional women's football league in the United States, this Washington-based franchise saw its assets bought "by a company under American law created and 89.5% owned by OL ", as the press release published on the OL official website specifies.
This Thursday, December 19, therefore marks the conclusion of negotiations started on November 25 and whose outcome has been positive. This transaction therefore makes OL one of the shareholders in the NWSL, one of the biggest leagues in the world in terms of women's football.
This takeover is in line with the implementation of an ambitious sports project on North American soil, with the objective of further developing the OL brand on this continent.
By acquiring one of the best football teams in the United States with the aim of making it a point of reference the world over by continuing its model and in particular its knowledge in the training of young players, OL intends to increase its international visibility. The development of a training center, like is done on the Lyon side, is one of the pillars of the partnership between the two clubs.
During this press conference, several major players in this group came together to explain in detail the project which now links the two clubs. Jean-Michel Aulas, president of OL, made the trip with Tony Parker, global club ambassador, who also acquired shares in Reign FC, Sonia Bompastor, divisional director of the OL Academy, which will play a leading role in the partnership between the two academies, and Gérard Houllier, OL's External Advisor.
At the press conference, they were accompanied by several members of the American franchise: Bill Predmore, previous investor and director of Reign FC, Megan Rapinoe, player for the United States national women's team and striker with Reign FC (who recently won the Ballon d'Or, succeeding Lyon's Ada Hegerberg), as well as Teresa Predmore, president of the Reign Academy, Amanda Duffy, president of the NWSL, and Maya Mendoza, member of the General Council of the Seattle Sounders, completed the delegation.
Jean-Michel Aulas :
"OL is the city of Lyon. A city geared towards entrepreneurship, the development of high-performance businesses and one with some of the highest purchasing power in France. Lyon is a club which for almost 70 years has ranked among the best in Europe, for men and women. A club which has wished from the start to make women's football the equal of men's football. When, in 2004, we took over the FC Lyon club, we had the ambition to become one of the most important clubs in women's football. Today we have the best women's team in the world. OL also has a tradition of training young people, both boys and girls. OL attaches great importance to training, but also to human relations and economic development. This is why the club is listed on the stock exchange. The development of our digital activities is also extremely important and the development of the brand internationally is also done by setting up in academies on different continents. We come with the ambition to learn a lot about the NWSL. We imagine that tomorrow’s women's football will be a mix of what’s happening in Europe and what’s happening here in the United States, where we aim to win a title as quickly as possible. It is with humility but ambition that we are here. I thank Bill, who will remain our guide, for what he has taught us about American football. We are very happy to be here with Reign FC. We will bring all our expertise and our passion to this project. "
Bill Predmore :
"This is a great day for Reign FC and for professional football around the world. Recently, OL Groupe and Reign FC signed an agreement for OL to buy shares in the club. All of this will be formalized in January. OL will become the majority shareholder. We too will remain shareholders of the club and Tony Parker will also become one. I am happy to remain president but I am also delighted that Jean-Michel Aulas will become president of the board. There is a real emotional weight today. This is a great chance for our club, it heralds future success. OL is an incredible brand in the world of football. Teresa and I founded the club 7 years ago with the desire that it might one day be the best in the world. We have had success in the past, with an incredible team. We were the best team on the planet after a while. But we looked at what was going on abroad and we finally understood that we had obligations, including that of bigger thinking for our club. We are proud of what the club has become and what it aspires to become. It is hoped that Reign FC will perform to the maximum of its ability. I am happy to say that we found in Jean-Michel Aulas a person who represents our values. Our two institutions think about things the same way. We couldn’t find anyone better than OL to run our club. "
Tony Parker :
"I am very happy to be here in Seattle. I have known Jean-Michel Aulas for 15 years now. He became a very good friend and he remains an example. He’s one of the best club presidents in Europe. He inspires me a lot. In 2014, I decided to return to France and buy ASVEL. Jean-Michel knew my interest in women's sport. We now have a partnership with OL which is incredible for my team. OL helps us at all levels. I have a lot of gratitude towards him and I am proud to now have a stake in Reign FC. I will do my best for the good of the club. OL’s ambition is to win titles with Reign FC and I’m looking forward to the future. "
Sonia Bompastor :
"It is an honor to be here and to be part of this project. A shared passion drives us and we try to transmit that to young people in Lyon. Our academy is mixed and it's good for our players, boys and girls alike, who can share in their football by playing together. This allows the best of them to reach the top level. Reign FC also have very good players. We have much to learn from you. You are an inspiration. If we could mix a French player with an American player, we would surely get the best footballer on the planet. We will do everything to make this project the best in the world. "
Megan Rapinoe :
"This is an important day. It’s a huge partnership that is being formed. It’s important to thank Bill and Teresa. We wouldn't be there without them. They have always believed very strongly in their project. Without their vision, tenacity and day to day efforts, none of this would have happened. It’s huge for me that OL have acquired Reign FC. I can't wait to see more. I thank OL. My years spent in Lyon were really special. We couldn't be separated for so long. This partnership is a great way to reunite. OL is the largest club in Europe. We are at the beginning of something. There is a shared vision and a common belief in women's football. It’s very exciting to see the biggest club in the world invest in women's football and get closer to us, as OL are a reference. I am very happy to be able to participate in this project and invest in it myself for the long term, not only as a player but also in the future. Knowing that everyone is united between OL and Reign FC is really special to me. Thank you for believing in us. "