Olympique Lyonnais is seeking to give up part or full control of its new LDLC Arena as part of wider efforts by the French Ligue 1 football club’s new ownership group to shore up its financial position.
US technology entrepreneur John Textor, through his holding company Eagle Football Holdings, completed a takeover of Lyon in December, but has already encountered multiple challenges in his first year of ownership.
Textor told the Financial Times of his plans today (Wednesday). Textor, who previously stated he aimed to pay off all Lyon’s debt not linked to its Groupama Stadium within two years, said he was currently in the process of “paring off non-core assets to focus on football”, adding that Lyon had been “way too heavy on physical assets”.
LDLC Arena is due to open in November, with architecture and interior design practice Jump Studios in June revealing designs for the premium spaces that will feature within the new venue. The Arena has been designed by the global architecture design firm Populous, which also designed the 59,186-capacity Groupama Stadium and Training Centre, completed in 2016.
The 16,000-capacity arena will be the largest in France outside Paris, and one of the most technologically and environmentally advanced in Europe. The Arena will have a capacity of 16,000 for concerts promoted by the global entertainment group and non-exclusive commercial partner Live Nation, and around 12,000 for sporting events, including home EuroLeague basketball matches for LDLC ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne.
It has also been designed to accommodate a range of other events such as large-scale seminars, trade shows, futsal, tennis and esports competitions. Textor said Lyon has invited bids for either 40% or full control of LDLC Arena, while it is also exploring the sale of its US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team OL Reign.
In May, Eagle agreed a deal to sell a controlling stake in Lyon’s domestic women’s team, the most successful women’s outfit in Europe, to US businesswoman Michele Kang. Textor told the FT that Lyon has also hired Goldman Sachs to raise about €300m (£260m/$315.5m) from the bond market as part of the wider effort to bolster the club’s finances.
The money raised would be secured against Groupama Stadium, and used partly to refinance existing loans from about a dozen different banks. OL Groupe had €321m net debt at the end of 2022, according to its most recent financial statements, which outlined a first half net loss of €60.7m.
Textor said that funds raised from asset sales could be better used to invest in youth academies and player development, as well as reducing debt linked to the takeover.
Today’s news comes after the Lavorel Hotels group and LDLC Arena announced a new partnership yesterday. Under the official supplier deal running until the end of 2026, the Lyon hotel group will benefit from a visibility package in the new LDLC Arena.
The partnership also plans numerous marketing and digital activations, as well as hospitality and ticketing packages. The collaboration intends to strengthen the links initiated in 2018 with the opening of the Kopster Hotel on the OL Vallée site in Décines-Charpieu.