The Michele Kang OL Groupe saga explained

The Michele Kang OL Groupe saga is complicated. In a club statement, Lyon has denied a story from L’Équipe that their successful women’s team will be purchased in its entirety by American entrepreneur Michele Kang but confirmed that their shares in NWSL’s OL Reign are indeed up for sale.

There are facts that are known and rumors that aren’t, notwithstanding Lyon’s confirmation that OL Groupe is now in discussions with a number of new partners to develop its assets in order to reinforce and strengthen its position as the global leader in women’s football. This will be under the leadership of president and former owner Jean-Michel Aulas, who will continue in that role until 2025.

The leadership and ownership structure after that is unclear, given that condition was apart of the transition of ownership from Aulas to John Textor when Textor became the majority stakeholder in 2022.

Where the Michele Kang OL Groupe facts end and the rumors start

Factually, Textor and Lyon revealed in their announcement that the Seattle-based OL Reign National Women’s Soccer League franchise had been placed up for sale. The Raine investment bank has been handed the sale mandate for the US club that the OL Groupe already owns 89% of the shares of.

This leads many to believe that the next owner will come from inside the NWSL given that there would be no need to sell the shares in the OL Reign if the owner didn’t hold stakes in another NWSL club. Enter Michele Kang, according to L’Équipe. The two investors are neighbors and friends in Palm Beach, Florida.

The purchase of ownership shares in the OL Groupe presents a problem for Michele Kang, who already owns NWSL club Washington Spirit, because NWSL owners cannot own shares in two franchises. According to the rumor, she will complete the acquisition of a controlling ownership in Lyon’s Women’s squad on June 30. However, this cannot happen until the shares of OL Reign are no longer apart of the OL Groupe portfolio.

According to L’Équipe’s source, Kang and Textor came to an agreement a few weeks ago through Textor’s group Eagle Football, the investment vehicle that is the main stakeholder of OL Groupe as a whole. Supposedly, Textor is selling Kang a 52% ownership in the women’s team. The remaining 48% will be kept by the OL Groupe. As apart of the agreement, Kang is expected to cover Lyon’s annual deficit of around €12m per season.

The most likely scenario is that Kang will join the OL Groupe by purchasing a majority stake in the Lyon Women’s team after OL Groupe sells their stake in NWSL’s OL Reign. While it is not a done deal, the working assumption is that once the OL Reign have been purchased by another entity, Kang’s purchase is a mere formality.

The timeline on the OL Reign’s purchase however is up in the air. It is assumed that the sale of the shares should be relatively quick

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