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

OWe could certainly fear that the end of the Jean-Michel Aulas era, 74 years old, at Olympique Lyonnais (OL) – thirty-seven years – would be complicated, but not really that it would turn into impossible transmission for the new owner John Textor. Nor that OL would be at 16e place in Ligue 1 after five days without a victory, his coach Laurent Blanc sacked in the fourth.

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Not only has the new management not begun to resolve the sporting crisis which has undermined the club for many years, but it must manage the institutional crisis caused by the conflict between the two presidents. Ousted in May, the former obtained at the end of August the freezing of 14.5 million euros in the accounts of the OL Groupe, demanding the repurchase of his shares planned during the sale. He also announced a defamation complaint against the new man, who accused him of having hidden the true economic situation of the club.

The dispute disrupted the Lyon transfer window: the desire of the new leaders to retain the best young people was compromised by the commitments made by their predecessor to the national management control department. They thus 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 not do better than Aulas by parting ways so late with a coach who did not have his confidence. Lyon supporters can deplore the procrastination of the first as much as the power of nuisance of the second. However, it was the players that the “ultras” of the northern turn inflicted a sermon on the megaphone, after their defeat against PSG on September 3.

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

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

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 he occupy in French and European football, when he has fallen far from the continental elite he aimed for in the 2000s, when he has not won any title since 2012 and is experiencing a fourth season without a League champions?

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