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US investor buys French Ligue 1 club Lyon

American investment company Eagle Football Holding added to a growing international portfolio when it took control of Ligue 1 club Lyon on Monday, the French side announced in a press release.

The holding company is controlled by technology entrepreneur John Textor, who also has stakes in Crystal Palace of the English Premier League, Botafogo in Brazil and RWD Molenbeek in Belgium. 

The deal, estimated to be worth more than 800 million euros ($850 million), was completed after more than six months of negotiations. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said in June that the two sides had shaken hands on a deal.

OL, the holding company that owns Olympique Lyonnais, put out a statement after the close of the Paris stock exchange. It quoted Textor.

“A new story begins today,” the 57-year-old American said. 

Eagle acquired the stake controlled by Aulas, the owner since 1987, and the minority holdings of French entertainment company Pathe and Chinese investment firm IDG Capitals.

The statement said that 73-year-old Aulas “will retain the operational presidency of Olympique Lyonnais for at least three years and will remain surrounded by his team.”

Lyon won seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles from 2001-8, but has struggled to keep up since Paris Saint-Germain was acquired by Qatari investors in 2006.

Lyon are eighth in Ligue 1 and coach Laurent Blanc, who took over in early October, asked the club to spend on new players after a lacklustre friendly draw against Ligue 2 Sochaux on Saturday.

“We have a quality group but there is not enough competition. It is up to me to create it or with new players in January,” he said.

The women’s team have won the French league in 15 of the last 16 seasons, interrupted only by PSG in 2021, and eight European titles in that span.

OL Group also owns OL Reign in the US National Women’s Soccer League  

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