“At OL, a president with early retirement, a distant owner and some doubts about exiting a corner”

HASlet’s call it a revolution in continuity. A thirty-five year era ended for Olympique Lyonnais (OL) with the June acquisition by US investor John Textor. But Jean-Michel Aulas, chairman since 1987, will remain so for at least three years, depending on the commitment of the new owner.

OL, which starts the 2022-2023 season in Ligue 1 with Ajaccio on Friday, August 5 (9pm), is rocking in the waters of football’s financial globalization and is therefore entering this new era with its former boss, after a failed season and while “JMA” hasn’t been at the helm with the same success for a few years now.

However, the choice for a gradual transition is understandable. Rarely has a club been identified so closely with its president, sole master on board, ubiquitous in the media and the one and only Lyon star of these three and a half decades, way ahead of any player.

Crisis of governance, crisis of passion

The club’s 800 million euro valuation alone points to his success at the head of OL. The amount is exceptional for a French club, excluding PSG: Olympique de Marseille was bought in 2016 for 45 million by John Textor’s compatriot Frank McCourt.

In addition to financial accuracy and an intelligent sports policy, Jean-Michel Aulas has added the development of infrastructures, of which the large stadium of Décines-Charpieu is the flagship. The quality of Lyon’s training can no longer be proven and the women’s division rules Europe with its eight Champions Leagues.

However, since the national supremacy of the 2000s (seven consecutive national titles), the chef’s view has withered. Devoid of any trophy since 2012, the men’s OL won the European Gotha they aspired to fifteen years ago.

Last season finished in eighth place in Ligue 1, the worst ranking since 1997, without qualifying for a European Cup. It was marked by the unexpected resignation of Juninho from his position as sporting director, by the failure of the recruitment and that of new coach Peter Bosz, as well as by a number of serious incidents in the stands.

Because the accounting indicators are not enough for the happiness of the supporters, the divorce with the president has expanded to the fringes of the public that were previously unconditional. The crisis of governance is also a crisis of passion, and the legendary Aulassian bad faith no longer deceives us.

In any case, the returns this summer of Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, at the end of the contracts with Arsenal and Bayern respectively, flatter the local fiber. Argentinian international Nicolas Tagliafico strengthens – subject to any starting points – an attractive squad of which Peter Bosz, who remains, will have a duty to make better use of.

Du Aulas in the text or

At the time of the summer promises, we still have to add a substantial investment in transfers, for almost 90 million euros. In the medium term, John Textor’s ambition is nothing less than to compete with PSG and take the league title.

If the extent of his future presence in Lyon and in the French media is not known, his personality announces some shards. For making jokes about the “PSG academy” be open to the world, The team from 1er Augustus has already aroused the official ire of the Paris club.

However, he promises to meticulously delegate all sporting decisions until he knows Ligue 1 better. “bringing new economy into the landscape”he calls the “sports entertainment concept”. From Aulas in the Textor, until now.

The discourse becomes more esoteric when it puts its contribution on the side of developmental tracks: “I don’t like running businesses, I’m like the crazy disruptive, provocative uncle”, he explained daily in sports. It mainly relies on the development of lucrative applications.

For a little bit you would suspect illusionism this businessman who dealt with special effects and then holograms (today in facial recognition, whose profitability he boasts compared to that of a football club). Let’s put it down to enthusiasm, and forget the doubts about the exact amount of his fortune.

If this historic turning point is enough to rekindle Lyon, this ambivalent management, with an early retirement president and a remote owner, leaves some doubt about the exit from the bend. It will be time later to distinguish between revolution and continuity.

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