Lyon invest in Parker's Villeurbanne; 'Strongest-ever' line-up for BCL
French soccer club Olympique Lyonnais has concluded a deal to acquire a minority stake in LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, the local basketball team newly elevated to European basketball’s top-tier EuroLeague.
The strategic agreeement was formally announced at a joint press conference on Saturday attended by Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas and Villeurbanne owner and NBA star Tony Parker (pictured).
Lyon has paid €3.4 million ($3.9 million) for a 25-per-cent stake in the men’s basketball team (with a view to increasing this to 100 per cent), and forked out a further €300,000 for the Lyon ASVEL Women team.
It was reported earlier this year that the Ligue 1 club was in negotiations to invest in Villeurbanne, which are based in a suburb of Lyon and were last November chosen to be France’s representative in the enlarged EuroLeague, with an initial licence covering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
The competition is going up from 16 to 18 teams next season, with the addition of the French side and a confirmed place for Germany’s Bayern Munich, also for the next two years.
Villeurbanne will continue to play home league and European games at their current Astroballe home, which has a capacity of 5,600, but there are plans for a new basketball arena with up to 16,000 seats, which would make it the biggest event hall in France outside Paris, according to Aulas.
Meanwhile, the soccer and basketball clubs will work together in areas including ticketing, sponsorship, seminars and other commercial activities, while Lyon will use Parker in campaigns as they look to attract new fans in markets such as USA and China.
Parker said: “I am proud to be associated with Olympique Lyonnais. It’s a historic day for the club and this is just the beginning. We are going to live big moments together.”
Of the remaining EuroLeague teams, 11 have 10-year licenses guaranteeing their places in the competition, and 17 of the 18 places are confirmed for next season, with the remaining wild-card place expected to go to UNICS Kazan of Russia or Partizan NIS of Serbia.
Meanwhile, the organisers of the Basketball Champions League, the merit-based European clubs competition that goes up against Euroleague Basketball’s second-tier EuroCup, have announced what they claim to be the “strongest-ever” line-up for the fourth season in 2019-20.
The BCL, which is overseen by FIBA, the international basketball federation, and 11 national leagues, pointed out that 23 of the 24 teams confirmed for the regular season played in their national play-offs last season, with 18 having finished in the top five of their domestic leagues.
The full line-up, including participants in the qualifying rounds, comprises 48 teams from 28 countries, including 16 current national champions.
BCL chief executive Patrick Comninos said: “The first three seasons of the competition were an outstanding success and the strength of this year's field suggests that it will get even tougher on the court and even more fascinating for hundreds of thousands of fans across Europe who follow at arenas, through great TV coverage and via social media.”