Ligue 1: half of the clubs are now in the hands of foreign owners

And ten! With the prospect of seeing the American John Textor, who entered into “exclusive negotiations” on Monday, take control of Olympique Lyonnais, it is now half of Ligue 1 which is preparing to go under the foreign flag. Between investment funds and businessmen.

And this list in L1, as in L2, is set to grow even more in the coming weeks. Saint-Étienne (L 2) should be the next name to fall into foreign hands since the Forézien club is currently in advanced discussion with a certain David Blitzer, a 52-year-old American businessman. Here is the list of French professional clubs that have become the property of foreign investors.

Auxerre speaks Chinese. In October 2016, Chinese businessman and billionaire James Zhou became the club’s new owner and major shareholder. AJA is back in L1 this summer, after its victory against Saint-Étienne in the play-off.

Clermont on Swiss time. The Swiss Ahmet Schaefer took over the presidency of the Auvergne club in March 2019. Clermont moved up to L1 for the first time in its young history in the summer of 2021, and remained there at the end of the 2021-2022 season.

Lille, «joyau» du Luxembourg. Losc was taken over in December 2020 by the Luxembourg investment fund Merlyn Partners. On the heels of the good sporting choices of the Lopez era (2017-2020), Lille was crowned champion of France in 2021.

Lyon, the new American nugget? OL announced on Monday that they had entered into “exclusive negotiations” with a view to acquiring a majority stake in the Eagle Football Holdings group, belonging to the American John Textor, who already owns, among other things, Botafogo (Serie A in Brazil) and the RWD Molenbeek (Division 1B, Holland). President Jean-Michel Aulas and the club’s current management team would remain in place after the transaction, the two parties have clarified.

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Nice, the billionaire’s dancer. OGC Nice was bought in the summer of 2019 by the British group Ineos, a flagship of the oil industry already known for its activities in cycling and led by British tycoon Jim Ratcliffe.

PSG, flagship of Qatar. The club was acquired in the summer of 2011 by the sovereign fund QSI (Qatar Sports Investment), which invested heavily to make PSG a European stronghold, with eight French championship titles over the period and a final. Champions League, lost to Bayern Munich (2020).

Marseille and Frank McCourt’s dollars. American billionaire Frank McCourt bought Olympique de Marseille at the end of August 2016, but is still waiting for his first trophy, after a lost Europa League final in 2018 against Atlético de Madrid.

Monaco and the Russian oligarch. Dmitri Rybolovlev arrived at the helm of Monaco at the end of 2011. Under his tenure, ASM were crowned French champions in 2017 and played in the Champions League semi-finals that year.

Troyes, branch of Manchester City. In September 2020, Estac was bought by the Emirati company City Football Group, owner of a dozen clubs including Manchester City. Troyes moved up to L1 in the summer of 2021, and remained there at the end of the 2021-2022 season.

Toulouse has its pension fund. At the end of July 2020, the American fund RedBird Capital Partners bought 85% of the club’s shares, before celebrating the rise of “Téfécé” in Ligue 1 for the 2022-2023 season.

In Ligue 2 too, foreign investors have made their market.

Bordeaux. The Hispano-Luxembourgish businessman Gérard Lopez, former boss of Lille, took control of the Girondins in the summer of 2021, after negotiations with the American fund King Street, shareholder of the club between 2018 and 2021. Bordeaux, relegated sportingly in Ligue 2 at the end of the season which has just ended, was administratively demoted to National (3rd division) by the DNCG, the financial policeman of French football, for budgetary reasons. The club immediately appealed this decision.

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Caen. The American investment fund Oaktree and the French producer Pierre-Antoine Capton bought 100% of the club’s shares in September 2020.

Le Havre. American businessman Vincent Volpe became president and 90% shareholder of the club in 2015, but could be tempted to sell it quickly to investors led by former OM president Jean-Michel Roussier.

Sochaux. In the summer of 2015, the club moved under the Chinese flag, bought by Ledus, a Hong Kong brand subsidiary of Tech Pro Technology. In April 2020, the Chinese real estate group Nenking officially became the owner, replacing Ledus.



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