His departure was planned in the long term, but it was accelerated: Jean-Michel Aulas handed over the controls of Olympique Lyonnais this Friday, May 5 to the American businessman John Textor, a thunderclap in Lyon which marks the end of a historic era for the French club.
When the takeover of OL Groupe by Eagle Football, an entity bringing together the English clubs of Crystal Palace, Brazilian Botafogo and Belgian Molenbeek (D2) and chaired by John Textor, was finalized last December, Jean-Michel Aulas had been appointed executive chairman for three years. But dissension quickly appeared between the historic leader and the new owner of OL, in particular at the level of the sports policy to be carried out to straighten out a club which is only 7th with four days to go from the end of the Championship.
Meeting on Friday, the board of directors decided to accelerate the transition by appointing John Textor ” Chairman of the Board of Directors from May 5 and until the end of his term of office, following the termination of Mr. Jean-Michel Aulas’ duties as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OL Groupe “, explained the group in a press release published on Monday.
Absent from the stands on Sunday
Aulas, 74, will remain on the board of directors as honorary president. He should receive compensation of ten million euros for his premature departure and keep his shares (about 9% of the capital through his family holding company, Holnest).
The match won 5-4 by OL on Sunday against Montpellier after an incredible comeback will be remembered for a long time: for its crazy scenario and especially because it is the last of the Aulas era which began 36 years ago. years.
Quite a symbol: if Textor (57) was present at Groupama stadium on Sunday, Aulas was absent from the stands.
The Lyonnais, CEO of Cegid, a company specializing in management software packages listed on the stock exchange since 1986, took over the presidency of OL in June 1987 when the team, penniless, had been vegetating in the 2nd division since its relegation in 1983. It took two years to get back into the top flight (1989) before returning to the European Cup in 1991.
Seven consecutive titles
Olympique Lyonnais definitely took off at the end of the 1990s with two 3rd places in the French Championship (1999, 2000), a victory in the Coupe de la Ligue and a 2nd place in 2001 before winning seven consecutive titles champion of France between 2002 and 2008 and epics in the Champions League with the Brazilian Juninho and the French Karim Benzema.
Lyon also won the Coupe de France in 2008 for the only cup-league double in its history before a final victory in the Coupe de France in 2012, the last title obtained.
Aulas, a tireless builder, also inaugurated Groupama Stadium in January 2016, a 59,000-seat stadium owned by OL. And around which a real small town has been erected, called “OL Vallée”, with in particular a leisure center and a medical center.
At the end of 2023, an Arena with a capacity of 12,000 to 16,000 seats will be inaugurated in which the Villeurbanne basketball team, in which OL Groupe is a 33-shareholder, will play for the majority of its Euroleague matches. .33%.
The victory against Montpellier on Sunday keeps Laurent Blanc’s team in the race for qualification for the Europa League Conference when the C1 was initially targeted.
If Lyon did not manage to rank 5th at the end of the championship, it would then be absent from European competitions for the second consecutive year.
It is now up to John Textor to revive OL sportingly.