“It is with great pleasure that I will explain to you what we have been up to over the past few weeks, and introduce you to John.” It is with these words that Jean-Michel Aulas opened the ball of the press conference, Tuesday, June 21, the day after the announcement of the exclusive negotiations of Olympique Lyonnais with the American John Textor. For nearly an hour in the Groupama Stadium press room, the two men spoke behind the scenes of the negotiations and the new investor presented his vision of the project and of football. “It’s a great day for the institution, a great day for all the people who make it up”welcomed the president of the club, who will continue to sit on the Board of Directors of the Rhone club.
Present at the club for 35 years, Jean-Michel Aulas, was first delighted with the way the negotiations with Eagle Football Holdings, the newcomer, took place. “The operation was a great success beyond our expectationsbegan the president of Lyon. Some did not respect the specific commitments and did not correspond to the values. Then we met John who ticks all the boxes. From the beginning he wanted to invest in OL with a permanent collaboration with the management team.”
The end came quickly: “We agreed on the night of Saturday to Sunday and everything was signed directly, Monday morning.” The financial concretization will arrive “July 29”where ‘The general meeting will see the capital increase.’
During these ten minutes of monologue, President Jean-Michel Aulas evoked the salient points which will guide Lyon, John Textor version. In the program : “putting football at the heart of our future development”to find “ambition both at national and European level” and, with an injection of 86 million euros, “meeting economic aspirations with an increase in capital.”
Finally, the fourth and last point lies in “the fact that I could stay with the team in place. John wanted me to stay and be present, it was not an absolute obligation, but it was a wish of the fans and also of all the people who participated: the DNCG, the League, the staff…” For the 73-year-old businessman from Lyon, “John will be heading back to Brazil tomorrow and receiving the keys to the city of Rio with what he did in Botafogo. Which shows the fans’ passion for him and the work he’s done.” The boss of Les Gones also made a promise for the transfer window: “We will be ambitious.”
Once this first part was over, John Textor, a 56-year-old American entrepreneur, spoke at length about his “sincere love for football” and his vision of “soccer” with, in common thread, his experiences at Crystal Palace and Botafogo. He presented himself as someone who “likes to know what people will be able to think and say in the future” by illustrating his point with his innovations in special effects and artificial intelligence.
The native of Missouri does not arrive at OL to take power, but presents himself “Here as a resource. I hope people see me as someone who likes to help.” On his vision of football, he spoke of his attraction to “Youth development”. “I came here because there is this academy which focuses on young people and there are parallels with Crystal Palace”, he asserts. In the Rhône, he seems to have found his happiness with “what the club represents in sport and entertainment. It’s very powerful a brand that already extends beyond our borders. Lyon is one of the 20 biggest clubs in the world”he proclaimed, evoking the women’s section in the background.
Beyond that, John Textor wishes to create a link with the other clubs of the Eagle group: “We are trying to create a collaborative family of clubs that work together to identify and develop their footprint on football in Europe. It was important for Jean-Michel to understand what is happening in the United States and Brazil. Every city, every community deserves to know that their club wants to win, that the people behind it want to win.” An idea shared earlier by Aulas: “We are also integrating into the Eagle group and we want more and more to always do more.” For Textor, this involves an ultimate objective: “Winning the Champions League.” The message is clear.