The NWSL’s OL Reign are for indeed for sale, the club’s ownership group confirmed this week after a report first published in the French newspaper L’Equipe threw the sale market into flux. The Reign are the third NWSL club to hit the market alongside the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns. The league also just finalized the sale of two expansion teams in Utah and the Bay Area.
L’Equipe initially reported that the OL Groupe was selling a majority stake (52%) in its top-flight French club Olympique Lyonnais Féminin to Michele Kang, owner of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. The OL Groupe, which was acquired by American businessman John Textor’s Eagle Football in December, would retain the remaining 48%, according to the report. L’Equipe noted that the acquisition would not impact the group’s controlling interests in the Lyon men’s team or its NWSL club, the OL Reign.
The OL Groupe denied the sale of its eight-time champion women’s club to Kang, calling the report “inaccurate” in a statement and attributing some of the possible confusion to its decision to sell the NWSL’s Reign—news of its own. The OL Groupe purchased controlling ownership of the Reign from Bill Predmore in 2019 for around $3 million. Predmore retained a minority stake in the Seattle-based club.
Representatives for Kang and the Spirit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The club said the Raine Group has been engaged to facilitate the sale. The investment bank also ran the sale of the OL Groupe to Textor last year.
“Olympique Lyonnais is happy and proud to have been able to build the new foundations of OL Reign, to have contributed to its sporting success (shield winner and semi-finalist of the NWSL 2022), but also to have repatriated the team in Seattle with its fans and community, as OL Groupe committed to when it was acquired in 2019,” the statement read.
In a statement, the NWSL said it was “aware of OL Group’s interest in exploring the sale of OL Reign and will continue to work closely with them to ensure any potential owner(s) are aligned with our league’s vision and values.”
Kang purchased controlling ownership of the Spirit in 2022 at a $35 million valuation, sparking a spike in valuations across the league. The NWSL’s recent expansion round set fees for new franchises at $53 million, though the sale of the Thorns, long viewed as one of the league’s most successful franchises, could command an even higher price. The Red Stars, which have drawn interest from two of Chicago’s most prominent sports families in the Ricketts and the Ryans, are also for sale.