Lyon in talks to buy U.S. women's team FC Reign of NWSL
The parent company of French football club Olympique Lyonnais is in exclusive talks to purchase Reign FC of the National Women's Soccer League.
The OL Groupe and the Reign announced the deal on Monday and the transaction is expected to be completed on Jan. 31.
Lyon play in Ligue 1 on the men's side and Division 1 Feminine on the women's side and have won six women's Champions League titles.
Current Reign owners Bill and Teresa Predmore will retain a minority stake in Reign FC. Bill Predmore will serve as CEO of the team.
"Our ambition has always been to operate the best women's football club in the world," Bill Predmore said 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."
Lyon purchasing a controlling interest in Reign FC would continue the trend of NWSL teams operating in conjunction with men's professional teams. Only Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC and Washington Spirit would remain under independent ownership. Independently owned teams in Boston, Kansas City and Western New York previously folded or relocated under new ownership involving USL or MLS groups.
Barcelona and Manchester City had in the past been linked to rumors of NWSL ownership, with Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu publicly stating an interest in 2016. But Lyon appears poised to be the first European team to finalize that step.
Reign FC made the NWSL playoffs for the second straight season this year and coach Vlatko Andonovski was named the league's Coach of the Year. Andonovski stepped down at the end of the season to become head coach of the U.S. women's national team.
Lyon will also assume control of Reign Academy as part of the deal.
The Hanauer Family and Tacoma Soccer Ventures, investors in the Reign when the team moved to Tacoma last season, will no longer have an ownership stake. However, the Reign will continue to play at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
Information from ESPNW writer Graham Hays and the Associated Press was used in this story.