Lyon owners acquire NWSL outfit Reign in US$3.5m deal

Lyon owners acquire NWSL outfit Reign in US$3.5m deal
OL Groupe, the parent company of French top-flight soccer club Olympique Lyonnais, has confirmed its takeover of National Women Soccer League (NWSL) outfit Reign, in a deal worth US$3.51 million.

The American club’s assets will be housed in a newly formed US registered company in which OL Groupe will have an 89.5 per cent stake, representing an investment of US$3.145 million. Bill Predmore, Reign’s former owner, and retired National Basketball Association (NBA) star Tony Parker will hold minority stakes of 7.5 per cent and three per cent respectively.

Parker, 37, who is also chairman of LDLC ASVEL, the current French women’s and men’s basketball champion which Lyon’s owners also recently acquired a share in, will be an OL Groupe brand ambassador in the United States.

OL Groupe President Jean-Michel Aulas will be the American club’s chairman, while Predmore takes on the Chief Executive job, supported by a Chief Operating Officer yet to be named by OL Groupe. Parker has also been given a board seat.

In a move to promote and develop the club’s brand in the US, the Lyon women’s team, who are the reigning French women’s soccer champions and six-time winners of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, 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.”

With the acquisition, OL Groupe also is set to become a shareholder in the NWSL in doing so becoming the first majority owner of a team in the US league based overseas.

“We are very excited to have OL Groupe join our ownership group as we further enhance the league’s global leadership in the women’s game,” said Amanda Duffy, the NWSL’s President. “The OL Groupe has shown tremendous success in our sport and their involvement with NWSL will help the league’s continued growth.”

The NWSL is developing rapidly, with record stadium attendances across all stadiums in 2019. In the 2020 championship, nine teams will compete on 24 match days, followed by play-offs for the top four. Further expansion is planned in 2021, with a new team confirmed to be playing in Louisville, and serious discussions underway with other interested groups. Spanish soccer giants Barcelona have previously been linked with setting up a women’s team in the US.

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