American investor John Textor became the main shareholder of French club Lyon on Tuesday and immediately targeted the dominance of Qatar-funded rival Paris Saint-Germain.
The last time Lyon won the French title was in 2008 and they struggled to compete as Paris Saint-Germain spent generously winning Ligue 1 in eight of the past 10 seasons.
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New Textor Club finished eighth in the season that just ended, 25 points behind the state-backed Paris Saint-Germain team with star striker Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
“I don’t like these models like PSG,” Textor said at a press conference in Lyon. “A great team, whoever they are, great athletes, we all love watching them.
“I think we want to follow them for the last few years,” he said. “We want to win titles here. We will show up and we will spend.”
Spending on player transfers was pledged through an injection of 86 million euros ($90 million) as part of Lyon’s deal with Textor’s Eagle Football Holdings that valued the club at around 800 million euros ($840 million). The club owns its 59,000-seat stadium, which hosted the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final, and the women’s team was European champion in six of the past seven seasons and won 15 of the last 16 local titles.
Lyon’s men’s team has never won the Champions League despite having reached the semi-finals twice, including a loss in 2020 to Bayern Munich who then beat Paris Saint-Germain in the final.
Lyon join Brazilian club Botafogo, Premier League Crystal Palace and Belgium’s Molenbeek in the Textor global football portfolio.
The tech entrepreneur said community-led clubs that could share knowledge and identify talent around the world were the common theme.
Textor said Lyon’s finances are “on a really sound footing” and noted the potential to earn income from expertise in sports, entertainment and technology.
“We can have capital to play in our football club like the Emir of Qatar,” he said.
Textor held the press conference jointly with Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas who has run the club for 35 years and plans to stay for three more.
“We’ll be a lot more ambitious with John at our side,” Olas said, adding that his new business partner is “checking all the boxes.”
Both aimed to further cynical influence on modern European football clubs by huge spending oligarchs and sovereign funds.
“Football is kind of divided by money,” Textor said. “I think over time fans will see me as someone who really likes to help.”