OL GROUPE INVESTS IN WOMEN'S FOOTBALL IN THE UNITED STATES
REIGN FC PLAYS AT CHENEY STADIUM IN TACOMA,
NEAR SEATTLE, WA
Lyon, 19 December 2019
Olympique Lyonnais is delighted to announce that the exclusive talks commenced on 25 November with a view to the acquisition of Reign FC, an inaugural member of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), have concluded successfully with the signature of an agreement to buy the club's assets for $3.51 million.
The assets will be housed in a newly formed US registered company in which OL Groupe will have an 89.5% stake, representing an investment of $3.145 million. Bill Predmore, Reign FC's former investor-operator, will hold 7.5% of the share capital. Tony Parker, the four-time NBA champion, Chairman of LDLC ASVEL (the current French women's and men's basketball champion) and an OL brand ambassador in the United States, will also hold a 3% stake.
With this acquisition, OL Groupe is set to become a shareholder via the newly formed US entity in the NWSL, alongside the other teams. 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, KY, and serious discussions underway with other interested groups.
The main objectives of this investment are:
- an ambitious sports development plan in the United States and a desire to provide the highest-calibre support to Reign FC, mirroring that successfully provided by Olympique Lyonnais to its women's team in Europe. Two players who previously played for Olympique Lyonnais are currently in Reign FC's squad:
- Megan Rapinoe, the iconic forward named FIFA Women's Player of the Year for 2019, and winner of Sports Illustrated's Sports Person of the Year award in 2019 and the Ballon d'Or Féminin 2019, following on from Ada Hegerberg, the Olympique Lyonnais attacker, winner of the 2018 accolade;
- Welsh international midfielder Jessica Fishlock, who won the championship in France and Europe with Olympique Lyonnais;
- development of the OL brand in the United States by raising its profile and unlocking B2B and communication synergies between the two teams on different continents;
- consolidation of Olympique Lyonnais' status as leading force in women's football around the world, which it has established by blazing a trail over more than a decade in France. The success of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, the semi-finals and finals of which were held at Groupama Stadium, demonstrated the growing popularity of women's football and its expanding global audience;
- skills and knowledge sharing in the development and training of young players via the partnership established between both clubs' academies.
Jean-Michel Aulas will serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors, with Tony Parker also holding a seat. Bill Predmore will be the club's CEO, supported by a COO to be named by OL Groupe.
The transaction is expected to close in January 2020.
A press conference attended by all the participants in the project will be held on Thursday, 19 December, at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, at 1:30pm local time (10:30pm, Paris time). It will be broadcast live on OLTV (via the OL Play service and on canalsat channel 133), YouTube Live (published on all the club's social media) and on the ol.fr and reignfc.com websites.
About Reign FC
Reign FC is an inaugural member of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States. Reign FC, which is going into its eighth season in the NWSL, plays at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, a city close to Seattle, Washington. The club has twice won the Shield by finishing top in the regular season (2014 and 2015), playing in the NWSL play-offs on four occasions (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019) and in the final twice (2014 and 2015). The 2020 season is due to begin on 9 March 2020.
About OL Groupe
Olympique Lyonnais, a football club founded in 1950 and chaired by Jean-Michel Aulas since 1987, is a leading player in France's sport and entertainment sector.
Olympique Lyonnais has 49 titles and honours to its name, including 28 gained by its women's team (13 consecutive French championship titles, eight French cup wins and six UEFA Women's Champions League titles, including the last four) and 21 (including a record seven consecutive French league titles) by its men's team, which has again qualified for the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions' League 2020, in which it will play Juventus, marking its 23rd consecutive season in a European competition.
This gender balanced approach is also reflected in the establishment of its mixed men's and women's academy.
Since Groupama Stadium was inaugurated in January 2016, Olympique Lyonnais has, like all the other major European clubs, had full ownership of an ultra-modern, multi-purpose facility, which is open all year-round, dovetailing perfectly with its Full Entertainment strategy spanning sporting, artistic, cultural and corporate events. In addition to the stadium, OL Groupe is also in the process of building a new 16,000-seat indoor arena, and this new facility will host concerts and sporting events at the OL City site.
About the NWSL
The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) is the sole women's professional football league in the United States. It operates under the closed league model prevalent in US sports and belongs to the team owners. It is currently managed by US Soccer, which was instrumental in its creation in 2013.
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