“Football is also about the community, with the cities and groups behind their team. I would like us to be able to come back a little more to those values. John Textor, new investor in Olympique Lyonnais, gave a human-focused speech during his induction into the press on Tuesday, along with Jean-Michel Aulas. An assumed desire to give itself an image placed under the sign of benevolence, at a time when OL is moving into a new era. It must be said that, so far, American businessmen in French football do not necessarily have a good reputation. From Colony Capital (PSG) to GACP (Bordeaux), via Frank McCourt (Marseille), they had varying fortunes without reaching the heights. Can John Textor be a game changer on the Rhone side?
Former skateboarding champion in the 1970s, the businessman converted, following a serious injury, to special effects and artificial intelligence. From Pirates of the Caribbean to Michael Jackson and Tupac holograms, John Textor has made a name for himself in the entertainment industry. His investments in sport then began: he was notably the manager of a streaming platform, FuboTV. Then the native of Missouri sees bigger and attacks at the beginning of this decade the takeovers of several clubs. If some of his attempts, such as Newcastle and Benfica, failed, John Textor succeeded in getting his hands on Crystal Palace, Botafogo and Molenbeek in succession, a few months before entering the capital of OL.
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Moreover, in Brazil, the arrival of the American investor in Botafogo, a historic club in Rio de Janeiro, was viewed favorably. Marcelin Chamoin, journalist specializing in Auriverde football for Lucarne Opposite, gives his opinion to Le Point on the new boss of OL. “We had a law change in Brazil last year allowing clubs to turn into companies. This has allowed the arrival of investors, but there are still few clubs interested in a takeover. Botafogo had just moved up to the first division and the price was attractive: John Textor paid 400 million reais (around 73 million euros) for 90% of the club’s shares. This is what Ronaldo paid for Cruzeiro, who is currently in Serie B, although he did not take on the club’s debt, unlike John Textor. »
One of the big questions for this takeover of OL remained the means of Textor, whose fortune was estimated at 3 billion dollars in 2016 but who will be supported by two other businessmen, Jamie Salter and Bill Foley, to much larger portfolios. This consortium now holds 66.56% of the shares of the Lyon club. Under pressure with the departures of Pathé and IDG, Jean-Michel Aulas wanted to reassure his supporters about this change in dimension. “With John Textor, we share the same values, the same love of football, but above all a pioneering spirit in search of excellence in everything we do”, indicated on Twitter the one who remains president of OL.
Involved in his projects, the 56-year-old businessman was quickly adopted wherever he went. After six months at the head of Botafogo, he still has a good popularity rating, as Marcelin Chamoin explains to us. “He gives the image of a modern and reliable investor, passionate about football. In his statements, he highlighted the Botafogo club, its supporters and, in general, Brazilian football. This is something that has been well received in Brazil. He was seen waving a club flag in front of fans, partying in a Rio nightclub. Cariocas love it when someone from outside is passionate about the city. John Textor will even be named citizen of the State of Rio by the legislative assembly. »
Very active, like his new partner, on social networks, John Textor does not hesitate to dive into arbitration controversies and stir up the wind in the direction of his supporters. Will we see in Ligue 1 an Aulas American sauce in its communication? “He asked on Twitter for the resignation of a referee who had expelled a Botafogo player in the last match, says Marcelin Chamoin. I don’t know if that counts as a common point with Aulas. I think we have to wait a little longer to see how he will deal with players who are unhappy with their playing time or those who are at the end of their contract. Botafogo started the Brazilian championship well, then had a bad series, which put the coach in difficulty with the supporters. John Textor said he trusted him and behind it the team came back strong. »
Brimming with ambition during his presentation to the press, the American also addressed a tackle directed straight at Paris Saint-Germain. “I don’t like the PSG model, I hope we can win against him next season. If we continue to do what Jean-Michel (Aulas) has been doing for a few years and bring entertainment and technology to it, we will be able to earn more money than with a Qatari investor. “A declaration of war that the historic boss of OL immediately wanted to temper… That’s good, the last investor from the country of Uncle Sam who attacked PSG has fallen into oblivion . In 2018, Joe DaGrosa, shareholder of the Girondins, declared that he wanted to attack the “little guys from PSG”. Four years later, the club risks falling into the fifth division. For OL lovers, we obviously wish John Textor more success.