Lyon is looking for past glory under new American owner Textor.

Lyon is looking for past glory under new American owner Textor.


PARIS (AP) — The last time Lyon won the French league title in 2008, the club’s new American owner was celebrating his own award.

John Textor’s visual effects company won an Academy Award for its work on the blockbuster “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” starring Brad Pitt.

Lyon fans will be hoping that Textor’s arrival will have a special impact on the club’s flagging fortunes.

In the years since the last seven titles in a row, Lyon has faded as Paris Saint-Germain’s hold on French football has been strengthened by wealthy Qatari ownership. PSG have won eight trophies since QSI took over in June 2011, while Lyon have finished second only twice.

Players such as Real Madrid great Karim Benzema emerged through the club’s famous youth academy and won the Lyon Cup from 2001 to 2008, while others such as Brazilian midfielder Juninho or Ghanaian ball-winner Michael Essene made their mark. .

But since Bordeaux ended Lyon’s run in 2009, the club’s fortunes have soared – despite a steady flow of young talent. Juninho’s sporting directorship didn’t work out and he left last December.

The club finished in eighth place last season and 25 points behind PSG. 10 league defeats and 51 goals conceded – the top 10 goals conceded by any club – made for a formidable statistic.

Something had to change and longtime owner Jean-Michel Aulas – who bought the club 35 years ago and oversaw its rise – took a gamble on Texter.

Immediately, Textor endeared himself to the Leon fans with a timely swipe.

“I don’t like these models like PSG,” the 56-year-old Textor said at a news conference. “A great team, whatever it is, great athletes, we all love to see them.

“I think in a few years we want to follow them. We want to win trophies here. We’ll show up and take it out.”

Lyon’s deal with Texter Eagle Football Holdings valued the club at 800 million euros ($840 million) with a capital injection of 86 million euros ($90 million) promised. The club owns a 59,000-seat stadium and the women’s team have been European champions in six of the last seven seasons.

The report of the club’s board of directors, sent to Lyon shareholders, was seen by the newspaper L’Equipe, 40 million euros (41 million) will be used to develop the men’s and women’s teams, and a further 46 million euros (47 million) to pay guarantees and improve infrastructure. According to the agreement with Texter, the American businessman is expected to invest more than 520 million euros ($530 million) in the coming months.

“It really ticks all the boxes,” said Aulas Texter.

Textor made his fortune in the digital media industry after an injury forced him to quit his freestyle skateboarding career. He was chairman and principal owner of The Sims Snowboard, a leading brand and digital domain media group.

In 2012, the Oscar-winning digital production company left this position after paying off $35 million in loans.

“I think we’re defined by our failures,” Texter said. “I had one of those failures… all false friends go away when success comes and wealth disappears.”

This isn’t the first time Textor has ventured into football, having gone back to launching virtual entertainment company Facebook. The streaming service’s former leading shareholder fuboTV has stakes in Crystal Palace, Belgian second division club RWD Molenbeek and Brazilian side Botafogo.

“I have a real passion for the sport of football,” said Textor, who brings two partners to Lyon, Genuine Brands chairman Jamie Salter and businessman Bill Foley.

Textor promised continuity rather than reform.

“Olympic Lyonnais has spread its wings, it has a women’s team in the United States, it has a brand that is recognized everywhere, and it is one of the 20 biggest clubs in the world, so why do I come and want. Change any of these,” Texter said.

Lyon brought in their fans Courtin Tolisso and Alexandre Lacazette. Both are local players.

“I believe in keeping your eyes open and dreaming,” Textor said. “We really want championships. Jean-Michel wants to go back to Europe and win in Europe. I think anything is possible.


Petrequin reports from Brussels.


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