FOOTBALL The American investor should officially become the owner of the Lyon club this Thursday with his Eagle Football group. “20 Minutes” explains why this issue is crucial for OL
On June 21, Jean-Michel Aulas introduced American businessman John Textor as the new owner of OL. Almost five months later, this takeover of the club is finally about to be concrete. — OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP
- Olympique Lyonnais is expected to formalize on Thursday its takeover by American investor John Textor, alongside his Eagle Football group.< /li>
- After two postponements, on September 30 and October 24, the transaction is eagerly awaited by OL, where the context is as complicated economically as it is sporting.
- 20 Minutes < /em>goes back to the reasons that make this change of era almost vital for Olympique Lyonnais.
Finally D-Day for the American era of Olympique Lyonnais? In any case, it’s this Thursday that the sale of the club should be finalized, as scheduled at the club. both OL and John Textor’s Eagle Football group, during a second postponement of the operation, on October 24. Since the presentation of the American businessman in front of the press on June 21, it seems to be the direction of the story to see Jean-Michel Aulas hand over, even if he would remain for another three years the president of the club. Except that many setbacks have accompanied for the past five months, and a further postponement, or even a failure of the transaction, is not to be expected. exclude.
20 Minutes wonders at; how crucial, if not even vital, it is to see this negotiation succeed this Thursday, after John Textor’s successful passage before the DNCG on Wednesday, as L’ ;Team. Against the backdrop of a central question: could OL really reconnect with its glorious destiny of the 2000s (seven consecutive titles in Ligue 1) without benefiting from the money? fresh and momentum embodied by a new investor?
Will the public handshake of June 21 between John Textor and Jean-Michel Aulas end in earnest? an agreement on the sale of the club, this Thursday? – Laurent Cipriani/AP/SIPA
A fragility; economical with stadium construction
From 2007, as OL embarked on its last months of sporting hegemony (French champion in 2007 and doubled L1-Coupe de France in 2008), the team’ The club's IPO becomes official and Jean-Michel Aulas' project to build his own stadium is at the same time a visionary turning point in French football. This OL Park in Décines (Rhône), which led to a total investment of 410 million euros for the club; Wasn't it ultimately too risky an economic gamble? According toThe Team, OL now has 300 M’euro; of debts with thirteen banks.
“I think it was a very good decision, said Vincent Chaudel, co-founder of the Sport Business Observatory. But as we also saw with Arsenal, which fell in sports performance at the end of the Wenger era by building the Emirates Stadium, instead of investing in sports, we invest above all in stone. This period reversed the Lyon dynamic because OL may have changed; too many things at the same time: the management model with the arrival on the bench of Claude Puel with expanded functions, recruitment with significant risk-taking on Yoann Gourcuff, and therefore the economic model with the construction of the stadium. When you change so many things, you are at a loss. thank you for the slightest grain of sand.”
The Parc OL, here during a Ligue 1 match between Lyon and Strasbourg last season, can accommodate around 59,000 spectators. – Adil Benayache/SIPA
One of the grains of sand in OL’s way rightly concerned this new stadium, only available in January 2016, long after the projections made by Jean-Michel Aulas, especially because of the many appeals from local residents. “The stadium was planned to be built in 2010, when we were in the Champions League, recalled JMA in 2014 at Lyon Capital. And there, we pay considerable sums in procedural costs to respond to the 80 trials brought by a minority. of people who have no idea what it &cced;it cost: more than 10’million euros.”
Sports economist Vincent Chaudel confirms: “This new stadium has been delivered with a few years of delay, and it’s a period when OL would have needed the 20-30 million euros per year that the stadium could have brought in. And above all, it does not give its full measure today in the economy of the club since it is not used. in a Champions League mode.
European campaigns drift away
Lyon's economic drama is easily targeted; and holds in a stat : OL missed; 7 of the last 11 Champions League qualifiers. The sporting anomaly is undeniable since Lyon remained the second budget of the championship during all this period. Likewise, it is quite insane; that the 2020 semi-finalist of the most prestigious European competition has since watched to TV all C1 campaigns. He is likely to do the same next season, given his current sluggish 8th place in Ligue 1, at the end of the season. 10 points from the podium. While his last title dates back to; more than ten years (the 2012 French Cup, its sporting downgrading is clear in France.
And the absence of a Champions League systematically deprives OL of a jackpot of at least 50 million euros, between the fixed participation bonus, that relating to its UEFA history and TV rights share, plus 2.8”million for each success in the competition… And this without mentioning ticketing revenue, which could reach 4 million euros for a poster at Parc OL. Former president of Losc and RC Lens, Luc Dayan deciphers the impasse in which the Lyon club finds itself in view of its difficulties in achieving success. find Europe.
Jean-Michel Aulas never hides it: in his projected budgets, OL had to make the Champions League at least two out of three years. The thing that could not have been foreseen by the Lyon leaders when they launched their own stadium project was the arrival of Qatar at PSG. Before that, OL were almost always first or second [9 times from 2000 to 2012]. The takeover of PSG has mechanically blocked a place in C1. Lyon, who found himself forced to repay part of the real estate of his project, was then unable to devote this money to; its payroll. Clubs like Monaco, Lille and others have therefore become strong contenders for the podium. And when you don’t get the 50 million euros that you had planned from UEFA, you have to get them out in another way: by selling your best players as all French football does to leaves PSG.”
Towards an inevitable impoverishment of the workforce
The juicy sales this year of Brazilian midfielders Bruno Guimaraes and Lucas Paqueta perfectly illustrate Luc Dayan's point. OL didn’t hesitate; to sell in 2022 the two largest market values of its workforce, even if it means to deprive itself of its two best players, despite the sporting dynamic then already disturbing with Peter Bosz. Just like another star player before him, Memphis Depay, who left free a year earlier, Lucas Paqueta was symbolically not left behind. replaced summer last, after leaving for West Ham at the very end of the transfer window.
It’s simple, over the last two seasons, Stade Rennais (current 3rd in Ligue 1) has almost spent five times more money than OL in transfer fees (155 M€ against 32 M€). Bad economic and sporting operations are also accumulating at the airport. Lyon, which pays for a number of poor recruiting and asset management choices. Houssem Aouar and Moussa Dembélé should thus leave the club at the end of their contract in the summer; next. As for the contribution of Romain Faivre, the last major investment in the scale of this OL (17 million euros, bonus included), it is up to now; (very) disappointing.
Lucas Paqueta had joined West Ham, at the end of the last summer transfer window, for 61.6 million euros (bonus included). – Simon Dael/Shutterstock/SIPA
A truly less uncertain future?
Add to; this gloomy picture the Mediapro fiasco and the consequences of Covid-19, with 36.5 million euros in losses announced in June 2020 by OL Groupe, then 50.6 million euros; by the end of 2020, and you will partly understand why Pathé (19.36 %) and IDG Capital (19.85 %) have wanted to withdraw from the Lyon capital since last March. Even the club’s extreme diversification (OL Féminin, OL Vallée, concerts at Parc OL, the future OL Arena…) is therefore not a guarantee of economic recovery. middle term. “Everything that President Aulas has put in place is intended to cushion as much as possible against potential sporting performance, analyzes Vincent Chaudel. But when Lyon is sportingly not there; where it should be, and it inevitably impacts its economy. If OL had participated in the last three Champions League campaigns, he might not need an investor today.”
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This one should therefore be John Textor, since within the Lyon club, we were still confident on Wednesday. Both owner of Botafogo (Brazil), and majority shareholder in Crystal Palace (England) and Molenbeek (Belgium), the 57-year-old American businessman would in any case have convinced the DNCG. And if the deal ever fails for good, what would be the outlook for Lyon? “L’OL has the particularity of to have shareholders with deep pockets, be it Jean-Michel Aulas and his family holding company, Pathé and IDG Capital, insists Luc Dayan. If the club needs to pay losses in order to stay alive, shareholders will have to take money out of their pockets. One can imagine that’ OL, they will not abandon the club as it has been. the case Bordeaux. Then at Pathé, IDG and even Holnest to then find people to buy their shares.” So, as thrilling as a Jimmy Briand header in derby stoppage time, this possible closing time, right?