Friday, September 22, 2023

“Olympique Lyonnais can only survive at the top of the Ligue 1 table”

Without a doubt, we could fear that the end of the Jean-Michel Aulas, 74, era at Olympique Lyonnais (OL), thirty-seven years, will be complicated, but not so much that it becomes an impossible transfer for the new owner John. Textor. Not that OL would be at 16my placed in Ligue 1 after five days without a win, his coach Laurent Blanc fired him in the fourth.

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The new management not only has not begun to resolve the sporting crisis that has dragged the club down for many years, but must also manage the institutional crisis caused by the conflict between the two presidents. Overthrown in May, the first obtained the freezing of 14.5 million euros in the accounts of the OL group at the end of August, demanding the repurchase of its shares planned during the sale. He also announced a defamation complaint against the new player, accusing him of having hidden the true financial situation of the club.

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The dispute disrupted Lyon’s transfer market: the new leaders’ desire to retain the best young players was compromised by the commitments made by their predecessor to the National Management Control Directorate. Therefore, they had to sell Bradley Barcola (Paris Saint-Germain) and Castello Lukeba (Leipzig), after Malo Gusto, who was transferred to Chelsea in January.

In danger at a bad time

In terms of timing, Textor did no better than Aulas by separating so late from a coach who did not have his confidence. Lyon fans can deplore both the procrastination of the former and the nuisance power of the latter. However, it was the players who were given a sermon by the “ultras” of the northern return via megaphone, after their defeat against PSG on September 3.

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Ensuring the post-Jean-Michel Aulas transition was a challenge that ruled out starting so badly on the ground. If OL changes unhealthy governance for governance that improvises, it puts itself in danger at a bad time.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Ligue 1, Olympique Lyonnais fights against its demotion

In any case, there is a painful transition from the economic modernity long embodied by Jean-Michel Aulas to the postmodernity of timeshare clubs. In fact, John Textor is a majority shareholder in Botafogo (Brazil), a minority shareholder in RWD Molenbeek (Belgium) and Crystal Palace (England), which a priori ensures that OL is the beachhead of this group.

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Beyond the clash of cultures between the paternalistic management of the omnipresident Aulas, which has become obsolete, and the objectives of the American investor, the question arises as to what the OL of tomorrow should be. What place could it occupy in French and European football, when it has fallen far from the continental elite to which it aspired in the 2000s, when it has not won any title since 2012 and is experiencing a fourth season without a League champion?

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