OL Groupe move into US soccer with $3.1m Reign acquisition

December 30 – US investors buying European clubs has become commonplace but European investors moving into the US to acquire a stake in club soccer is not.

France’s OL Groupe, the parent company of Europe’s (and probably the world’s) best women’s team, Olympique Lyonnais, and the men’s equivalent that plays in France’s Ligue 1, has taken control of National Women Soccer League (NWSL) of Tacoma, Washington, team Reign, in a deal reported to be worth $3.145 million.

OL Groupe will have an 89.5% stake in a newly formed US registered company with Reign founder and former owner Bill Predmore holding 7.5% and retired NBA star Tony Parker holding 3%. It is the majority club owner in the league that is based outside the US.

OL Groupe president Jean-Michel Aulas will be the American club’s chairman, while Predmore takes on the chief executive job. OL’s women’s team, the reigning French champions and UEFA Women’s Champions League champions, will form a strategic partnership with Reign.

“Our ambition has always been to operate the best women’s football club in the world,” said Predmore. “This is a distinction long held by OL, making them the perfect organisation to help us achieve our long-term objectives for the club.

“We believe the combination of OL’s experience and expertise with our knowledge of the market and league will allow future investments to deliver the optimal impact to the club and to the NWSL.”

The NWSL 2020 championship will have nine teams playing on 24 match days, followed by play-offs for the top four. Further expansion is planned in 2021, with at least one new team already confirmed to be playing in Louisville.

Reign FC won the NWSL Shield in 2014 and 2015 and finished runners-up in the NWSL Championship in the same years. Over the past two seasons, Reign have made the playoffs twice and recently broke the NWSL attendance record in a game against Chicago Red Stars. US World Cup star Megan Rapinoe plays for Reign.

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