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Olympique Lyonnais ownership enters talks to take over Reign FC

OL Groupe, the parent company of French women’s soccer team Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, has entered into exclusive negotiations to purchase a majority stake in National Women’s Soccer League team Reign FC.

A deal for the club based in Tacoma, Washington, is expected to be completed by January 31, 2020.

Current Reign FC majority owners Teresa and Bill Predmore will retain a minority stake in the club after the sale has been completed, while Bill Predmore will serve as chief executive. Reign Academy, which is owned and operated by Reign FC, will also become a part of the Olympique Lyonnais family, with Teresa Predmore will continue to serve as its president.

The Hanauer Family and Tacoma Soccer Ventures, who were announced as investors in Reign FC in conjunction with the team’s move to Tacoma in January 2019, will not have an ownership position in the club after the sale to OL Groupe has been completed.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin – which has a sister men’s team in Ligue 1 – is the most successful women’s soccer team in the world, with 13 consecutive domestic league titles and six Uefa Women’s Champions League titles, including the last four in a row.

“Our ambition has always been to operate the best women’s football club in the world,” said Bill Predmore in a statement. “This is a distinction long held by OL, making them the perfect organization to help us achieve our long-term objectives for the club.

“Growing the club, the league, and the sport demands increased investment in our facilities, our staff, our players, and the league,” Predmore added. “OL has the capacity to make these needed investments, and the knowledge and experience to make those investments in the manner most likely to yield results. We believe the combination of OL’s experience and expertise with our knowledge of the market and league will allow future investments to deliver the optimal impact to the club and to the NWSL.”

Megan Rapinoe, the Reign FC and United States Women’s National Team superstar, played for Olympique Lyonnais Féminin in the 2013-14 season.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin said in a statement: “This investment is expected to consolidate OL’s position as a major player in women’s football worldwide and further develop the OL brand in the United States.”

LaLiga giants FC Barcelona is also looking to set up a team in the NWSL, but is insisting on a sponsorship exemption to wear Nike kits indefinitely.

“We don’t want to share our brand. We are very protective of the ways we present ourselves. We want to use our crest, our  colours  and our sponsors. Otherwise this will dilute the brand,” Xavier O’Callaghan, the managing director of the Barcelona New York office, told SportBusiness. “We have a long-term partnership with  Nike  and we have to play with Nike. If  the  NWSL changes to a different brand, then we have a problem.”

Read this: NWSL looking to translate Women’s World Cup aura into long-term gains