June 9, 2023

Lyon Feminin set for Michele Kang takeover

Lyon Feminin are set to have a new majority owner in the shape of American businesswoman Michele Kang by the end of the season, with a formal announcement perhaps sooner.

The French giants, the most successful club in the history of the Women’s Champions League with eight titles, are currently owned by parent company OL Groupe.

American businessman John Textor became new majority shareholder in 2022, although long-serving president and former owner Jean-Michel Aulas will stay on as president until 2025.

But Textor is now on the verge of selling off a 52% stake in the women’s team to Kang, detailed in a report by French publication L’Equipe. The OL Groupe will retain the other 48%.

Kang, who already owns NWSL club Washington Spirit, is expected to cover Lyon’s annual deficit of around €12m per season. She came to prominence and wealth as founder and CEO of Cognosante, a Virginia-based firm focusing on innovative health solutions through technology.

Kang’s takeover of Washington Spirit was completed last year for $35m, beating Chelsea and LA Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly to the deal after convincing investors and shareholders to sell their stakes to her instead. Under her control, there has been significant investment in the team, as well as rebrand, for which Kang said last month, ‘everything is on the table’.

Meanwhile, OL Groupe controls an 89% stake in fellow NWSL club OL Reign.

Lyon are locked in a battle with perennial domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain for the Division 1 title in France this season, but suffered a setback in Europe when a 127th minute second leg equaliser from Chelsea forced a quarter-final penalty shootout that they then lost.

The club is also braced for a rumoured world record Barcelona approach for star striker Ada Hegerberg. The Norwegian has only recently returned from a long-term injury and limped out of her country’s international friendly against Sweden this week, but has allayed fears of a major issue.