Lyon football club's iconic president Aulas hands the baton to US investor

·2-min read
© Laurent Cipriani, AP (archives)

Lyon's iconic president Jean-Michel Aulas is stepping down after nearly 36 years in charge of the French football club, handing over duties to American investor John Textor, who became the main shareholder last year.

Lyon won seven league titles under Aulas' tenure, while the women's team established itself as a major European force. The 74-year-old Aulas was initially set to remain in his position for three more years following Textor's takeover in December. But the club issued a statement Monday saying he will instead serve as honorary chairman from now on, with Textor appointed as chief executive officer of OL Group.

Textor’s Eagle Football acquired a stake of 77.49% in the club, pledging to provide a capital increase of 86 million euros ($90 million).

The American businessman made his fortune in digital media. He also has stakes in Crystal Palace, Belgian second-division club RWD Molenbeek, and Brazilian team Botafogo.

Aulas took over Lyon back in 1987, when the club was in debt and played in the second tier of French football. By making astute player signings and developing one of the most renowned youth academies in Europe, Aulas grew the club into a financially successful entity owning its 59,000-seat stadium.

On the European stage, Lyon twice reached the Champions League semifinals. In contrast, Lyon's women's team became the dominant force in Europe, winning a record eight Champions League titles.

“Thank you Jean-Michel. Thank you very, very much,” she wrote.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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