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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Miscik

Spirit Owner Kang Buys Lyon: What’s Next

Spirit Owner Kang Buys Lyon: What’s Next?

The Washington Spirit announced on May 16 that majority owner Y. Michele Kang is buying French women’s team Olympique Lyonnais. In doing so, she will become the CEO of a newly-formed global women’s football group that seeks to buy teams in Asia, South America, Central America, and Europe.

What does this mean for OL Reign?

OL Groupe’s decision to sell OL Reign was unrelated to Kang’s purchase of Lyon. Just as Portland and Chicago have continued playing while they are up for sale, OL Reign too will have no noticeable changes in the short-term.

Michele Kang speaking to the attendees of Washington Spirit's season premiere event. // Photo courtesy of Washington Spirit
Michele Kang speaking to attendees of Washington Spirit's 2023 season premiere event. // Photo courtesy of Washington Spirit

What does this mean for Lyon and the Spirit?

Kang made it clear that both Washington and Lyon will keep their separate identities. There are no plans for them to rebrand together under a different name or colors. Meg Linehan of The Athletic reports that “Kang plans to invest in both local and centralized infrastructure among both teams, citing plans for shared resources, particularly across performance science, staff development and scouting.”

For the first time in its history, Lyon’s women’s team will be owned separately from its men's team. However, Lyon women will continue to use the same facilities, including Groupama Stadium and Groupama OL Training Center. Sharing personnel such as medical staff will be more complicated and is currently being worked on.

The Spirit will not change dramatically this season. Kang announced in the 2023 preseason that the team is looking to rebrand, and it seems that they will stay on track to do so. Whether or not that rebrand entails a pivot towards the new ownership group’s branding remains to be seen, but either way, this rebrand has been in the works before the Lyon purchase.

What’s Ahead

Kang estimates the sale of Lyon will close around June 30. However, this is all contingent on the NWSL Board of Governors approving the deal. They are involved because of OL Groupe’s involvement in the sale of OL Reign. Kang has made it clear that she will not be buying Reign, and she will recuse herself in any matters regarding them.

The Athletic piece on the sale notes that Kang is looking forward to friendly matches between the Spirit and Lyon, both in Washington and in France. Given the both teams’ recent forms, this should excite fans of both teams.

Michele Kang and Wendie Renard shaking hands. // Photo via Wendie Renard, @WRenard
Michele Kang and Wendie Renard shaking hands. // Photo via Wendie Renard, @WRenard


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