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Open letter from Jean-Michel Aulas to fans of Olympique Lyonnais

Published on 10 May 2022 at 5:16 PM
Lettre ouverte de Jean-Michel Aulas aux passionnés de l’Olympique Lyonnais
Two rounds before the end of the 2021-2022 season, I have chosen to write to all of you, fans of Olympique Lyonnais. In the time we have grown up together (35 years), I have always preferred to speak directly to you, even if sometimes it will have earned me a few blows, even if they've come from being always very honest, coming as they do from a place of shadow. But this unique relationship that binds us is one of the foundations of our common love for Olympique Lyonnais.

So I will not talk to you about our sacred bond before this match against Nantes. You have showed yourselves present so many times during this season that it is now up to us to return this love to you a hundredfold. It is up to us and our players to find a measure of pride and to end this season at home in a better light.

I also want to reassure you and remind you that not everything is played out in a single season when you are an institution as solid as ours. Remember the failures and rebuildings of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus or Atlético Madrid. We can be proud of how far we have come in more than 35 years, but we can also be impatient to see what we still have to achieve.

The mistake to make would be to burn what we love, in that it could also reduce to ashes what has been not only our history, but also our ambition.

Nothing has been spared us this season, and we have been buffeted by a strong storm. We are facing a paradoxical situation after a good European campaign, crowned by being the best French team in UEFA, we will certainly not be back in Europe next season. It's heartbreaking for you, as it is for us.

We have stumbled, but now we are picking ourselves up, we have learned and we are more than ever on our feet, and we can be even stronger if you are with us. Other clubs will not have had this chance and we now have an opportunity to rebuild a stronger, more competitive Olympique Lyonnais. An Olympique Lyonnais who will be able to make the lessons of this season one of their strengths for the future.

We have already begun a deep self-interrogation at the end of this three-year cycle, marked by 175 million euros of investment in our men's team. We are facing up to our mistakes so as not to repeat them again, without hiding or making excuses, although we have, at each of our initiatives, tried to light the way to the future with the help of our glorious past.

I don't think we got lost along the way, but today I know it was important to rediscover our fundamentals, our OL DNA, as it were, and have a mentality that will be part of a spirit of revenge next season. This is not a revolution, our roots are there.

We must continue to be inspired by everything that makes the identity of Olympique Lyonnais what it is, like the return to the highest level by our women, who will play their tenth European final in Turin on May 21. This is a model that we want to develop within all teams, by including former club players at the highest level, with staff that also have our DNA, such as Sonia Bompastor and Camille Abily. Let us be proud of this Olympique Lyonnais identity, which we also find in our young players who have just won the Gambardella and are laying the groundwork for the future of the Institution, and also our entire Academy which is now completing one of the finest seasons of its history.

When I talk about these successes, it's not to hide our failures on the part of the first team. They simply carry within them the seeds of our future success, and represent so much inspiration from which we must nourish ourselves. This DNA is one of our keys to building a new cycle of success. Simply put, to know where we are going, we must not forget where we come from.

Hard work, training, transmission of our values, respect for the badge of our OL, and also the typically Lyonnais mixture of humility and pride, this synthesis of local players, and others from elsewhere, young players who have the future ahead of them, and other more experienced ones who want to share in what we have: a return to the values of the club, a return to an OL identity, and to do whatever it takes to rebuild with a conquering state of mind.

We have already anticipated this with extensions for Wendie Renard and Mohamed El Arouch and our determination to extend the contracts of Maxence Caqueret and Rayan Cherki for the long term: in this, we are building in this direction of renewal. We want the DNA of Lyon training to be the key word for the future. We will be vigilant in parsing the profiles of our players who will join us, and will try to target as a priority those whom we consider to be compatible with our philosophy and the spirit of the club that you yourselves embody, being the most unconditional supporters of our beloved OL.

We are going to push together to reach this state of mind, to get out of comfort our comfort zone, because we owe all our fans and OL enthusiasts a measure of revenge. The coach must also be emblematic of our values here at OL, and we must help him in his mission, allow him to have players with this exemplary state of mind and be ready to open the door to leave for those who are not in our Lyon philosophy.

It may take courage, but we have never lacked it and we will never lack it, this is also in our DNA. The institution is stronger than anything! You are Olympique Lyonnais, we are Olympique Lyonnais!


Jean-Michel Aulas