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Official: Michele Kang in charge of both Spirit and Lyon women’s side

© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

OL Groupe, owners of the French side Olympique Lyonnais, and Michele Kang have officially announced their partnership to create a multi-team women’s football organization, with Kang as the majority owner and CEO. Kang is already the owner of the Washington Spirit.

The majority stakes in both teams will be taken in order to create a new independent entity, although the Lyon side will continue to get services through the OL Groupe, including the use of the stadium, training grounds and academy.

“This deal represents a major step forward in the history of women’s professional football,” Kang said, via a press release from Washington Spirit. “It brings together the unparalleled tradition of the eight-time Champions League winning OL Féminin and the dynamism of the 2021 NWSL Champion Spirit to usher our sport into a new era. The complete alignment and support for this vision among the OL Groupe board and key principals including Jean-Michel Aulas, John Textor and myself is very powerful. It is a great honor to take stewardship of OL Féminin and lead this unprecedented effort on behalf of the fans, players and staff of both teams.” 

The multi-team organization is also looking to acquire additional clubs in other countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia as soon as the end of the calendar year.

John Textor, CEO and Chairman of OL Groupe said of the deal, “with a tradition of winning that is unmatched in the world of women’s football, OL Féminin has a unique opportunity in this growing market to build the Olympique Lyonnais global brand for the benefit of OL Groupe and for our remarkable athletes. Today’s agreement with Michele creates the ideal vehicle to accomplish that objective, securing an exciting future for OL Féminin.” 

It is important to note that each club will retain its own established identity, so unlike the OL purchase of the Reign, team’s branding is expected to stay the same. While growing the fanbase for each club individually is important, significant resources will be devoted to developing capabilities that can be shared across the teams such as performance science and technology, data analytics, global scouting and sporting staff development.

The deal is still subject to approval by the NWSL and various third-parties in France but currently it is expected that the closing should take place at the end of the June.

In order to avoid the conflict of interest of having Michele Kang own more than one NWSL club, Raine Bank has been hired to oversee the formal sale process of the NWSL’s OL Reign. Other than the Reign, the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns are also NWSL clubs looking for new ownership, and next year expects two new expansion sides to join the league as well. At the moment there’s not a lot of clarity of what the future holds for the Reign.

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