Reign FC announced today that they are in negotiations to sell a majority stake in the club to OL Groupe, which own Olympique Lyonnais. Current Reign owners Teresa and Bill Predmore will retain a minority stake in the team and Bill Predmore will serve as CEO. According to the Reign’s press release, the deal is expected to close before January 31, 2020. According to The Equalizer, this deal formed after the Predmores met with OL Groupe at the World Cup to discuss an expansion team.
“Growing the club, the league, and the sport demands increased investment in our facilities, our staff, our players, and the league,” said Predmore in the press release. “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.”
This deal will also fold in Reign Academy, of which Teresa Predmore will remain president.
This move is a departure from the Hanauer family and Tacoma Soccer Ventures’ minority investment in the team when they moved to Tacoma ahead of the 2019 season. Neither group will have ownership positions in the club after the sale, although Bill Predmore said they would “continue our collaboration” with Adrian Hanauer and the Sounders. The Reign will stay at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma for 2020, although the nature of the relationship has now changed, with the Reign becoming tenants since they are no longer owned by the stadium’s operators.
Overall, this seems like a good move for the Reign, although it’s obviously early days. They get a [probably] massive injection of cash while the people on the ground who built the club from scratch are still there to provide their expertise. Lyon also doesn’t try to elbow their way into the NWSL and set up an entirely new expansion team while perhaps not totally understanding the dynamics of a different league, like going through the college draft.
So now what for the Reign? Olympique Lyonnais are certainly a powerhouse of the women’s soccer world, and based on team owner Jean-Michel Aulas’ relatively massive financial investment in OL, he will probably want the same dominance from the Reign. Combined with the recent changes to salary rules to allow teams to essentially bring in high-paid designated players, could we see the Reign setting up some big contracts for the 2020 season? The club now has much firmer connections to European scouting and recruiting - are we going to see some Renards and Hegerbergs in the PNW?
How do you feel about the way OL Groupe has joined the NWSL? Let us know in the comments.