May 17 – Multi-team ownership is coming to the women’s club game globally with the announcement of a deal between OL Groupe, owner of Olympique Lyonnais, John Textor’s Eagle Football Holdings, majority owner of OL Groupe and MicheleKang (pictured), owner of the Washington Spirit who play in the NWSL.
Formed as an independent new company and as an all-stock deal, OL Groupe will contribute its women’s team, and Kang, through YMK Holdings, will contribute the majority share of the Washington Spirit.
This new business will look to buy clubs in other countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
Under the new deal OL Groupe will support the new entity via the provision of services including the use of GroupamaStadium, Groupama OL Training Center, and OL Academy. Kang will join the OL Groupe board.
“This deal represents a major step forward in the history of women’s professional football,” said Michele Kang.
“It brings together the unparalleled tradition of the 8-time Champions League winning OL Féminin and the dynamism of the2021 NWSL Champion Spirit to usher our sport into a new era. The complete alignment and support for this vision among the OL Groupe board and key principals including Jean-Michel Aulas, John Textor and myself is very powerful. It is agreat honor to take stewardship of OL féminin and lead this unprecedented effort on behalf of the fans, players and staff ofboth teams.”
The two clubs will retain their own established identity, while the new ownership said itwill continue to investstrategically to upgrade infrastructure and grow the fan bases. “Significant resources” will be allocated to developcapabilities that will be shared across all teams in areas such as performance science and technology, data analytics, global scouting, and staff development.
“Over the past 20 years, OL Groupe has played an important role in growing the game of women’s football. Today the sport’s popularity is exploding in Europe, the US, and around the globe,” said John Textor, CEO and Chairman of OL Groupe.“With a tradition of winning that is unmatched in the world of women’s football, OL féminin has a unique opportunity in this growing market to build the Olympique Lyonnais global brand for the benefit of OL Groupe and for ourremarkable athletes. Today’s agreement with Michele creates the ideal vehicle to accomplish that objective, securing anexciting future for OL féminin.”
An OL Groupe statement said the new group is a clear sign that the investment and resources in women’s football are taking a major step towards equality with men’s teams and are creating the opportunities for a career in football on a scale and level of professional success `’that should not be reserved only to their male peers”.
“The combination represents hope, determination, and the necessary business steps towards shaping the future of women’s football,” said Kang.
No value was given for the combined clubs, or idea of the amount of money available to buy teams or invest in current infrastructure. The name for the new company has not been released though the deal is expected to close at the end of June subject to approval by the National Women’s Soccer League in the US and various third-party approvals in France.
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