Lyon confirm NWSL franchise takeover plans

French club’s owner says deal could go through in time for 2020 season.

11 October 2019 Sam Carp
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French soccer giants Olympique Lyonnais have confirmed that they are in talks to purchase a franchise in North America’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Lyon’s own women’s team, who play in Division 1 Féminine, are one of the most successful in Europe, with 17 domestic titles and six Uefa Women’s Champions League crowns to their name.

However, Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas said via the Ligue 1 club’s website that buying a women’s team in the US is part of the club’s plans to internationalise, adding that a deal could go through ahead of the 2020 season.

“Our international expansion also involves a project in the United States with the decision to take over a women's football franchise,” Aulas said. “The project is progressing well and we aim to be operational before the start of the next season, in March to April 2020.”

Aulas did not specify whether Lyon would be looking to purchase one of the NWSL’s existing franchises or an expansion slot. However, French newspaper L’Equipe said the club have been in negotiations with two NWSL clubs.

It was reported in August that the NWSL could expand from nine to 12 teams by 2021, although there was no mention of Lyon’s interest at that time, with Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United and United Soccer League (USL) teams Louisville City FC and Sacramento Republic FC the teams linked.

Lyon are the second European soccer side to express their interest in joining the NWSL. Spanish giants Barcelona confirmed in October last year that they were in talks to have a team join the competition.

French soccer giants Olympique Lyonnais have confirmed that they are in talks to purchase a franchise in North America’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Lyon’s own women’s team, who play in Division 1 Féminine, are one of the most successful in Europe, with 17 domestic titles and six Uefa Women’s Champions League crowns to their name.

However, Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas said via the Ligue 1 club’s website that buying a women’s team in the US is part of the club’s plans to internationalise, adding that a deal could go through ahead of the 2020 season.

“Our international expansion also involves a project in the United States with the decision to take over a women's football franchise,” Aulas said. “The project is progressing well and we aim to be operational before the start of the next season, in March to April 2020.”

Aulas did not specify whether Lyon would be looking to purchase one of the NWSL’s existing franchises or an expansion slot. However, French newspaper L’Equipe said the club have been in negotiations with two NWSL clubs.

It was reported in August that the NWSL could expand from nine to 12 teams by 2021, although there was no mention of Lyon’s interest at that time, with Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United and United Soccer League (USL) teams Louisville City FC and Sacramento Republic FC the teams linked.

Lyon are the second European soccer side to express their interest in joining the NWSL. Spanish giants Barcelona confirmed in October last year that they were in talks to have a team join the competition.

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