Laurent Prud’homme has stepped down as chief executive (CEO) of L’Equipe, the Amaury Group-owned French sports media outlet, to join domestic soccer giants Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon).
Prud’homme has resigned from his role at L’Equipe and will take up the senior management role with the beleaguered Ligue 1 side in the coming weeks.
He will replace Santiago Cucci, who has been serving as interim CEO since July. General Manager Thierry Sauvage is also departing as the club continues to restructure.
Prud'homme is joining Lyon during a difficult period for the club both on and off the pitch as they currently sit bottom of Ligue 1.
Lyon have endured a troubled spell since American John Textor completed his takeover last December and recently announced a net loss of €99 million ($107.8 million) for the 2022-23 financial year.
On Wednesday, the club announced it had reached an agreement with a group of investors to refinance a huge portion of their debt, with the deal valued at €320 million.
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Lyon said the refinancing will help repay the balance of long-term debt used to maintain their stadium.
In May, Jean-Michel Aulas stepped down as president of Lyon after more than three decades as part of an initial senior leadership reshuffle at the French side following Textor’s takeover.
Textor became the new chairman of the club's OL Groupe holding company and briefly took on the role of interim chief executive.
Prud’homme is understood to have been in discussions with Textor for several weeks before finally being convinced to take the position.
According to L’Equipe, Prud'homme was chosen by Textor because of his knowledge of the key stakeholders in French soccer, including the leading figures of the FFF national federation and the LFP league body.
The Frenchman joined L’Equipe in 2020 and served as a member of the group's executive committee.
Before joining the major French media company, he held a role as Warner Bros. Discovery's senior vice-president and general manager for France, which included Eurosport France, for 20 years.
Prud'homme, previously senior vice-president of rights acquisitions and syndication at Eurosport, had replaced Julien Bergeaud, who left to become managing director of Mediapro France, in October 2019.
He joined Eurosport in 2001 from pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus.
The Olympique Lyonnais men’s side are one of the most decorated in French history, having won Ligue 1 seven times, along with five wins in the Coupe de France cup competition, but have struggled in recent years to replicate their past successes, with Qatar-owned Paris-Saint Germain dominating.
Lyon’s last league trophy came in the 2007-08 season, and it has been over a decade since their last trophy.
The club’s women’s team has enjoyed more recent success, winning eight UEFA Women’s Champions League titles, including a record five consecutive triumphs from 2016 to 2020. They won the 2021-2022 tournament against Barcelona and have also won 15 league titles.
More recently, OL Féminin has dominated European soccer on the women’s side, holding the records for most UEFA Women’s Champions League titles (8), Division 1 Féminin titles (16), Coupe de France Féminin (10), and Trophée des Championnes (3).
Through his Eagle Football Holdings firm, Textor acquired 78% of OL Groupe shares. The deal valued that company at around €800 million.
Since purchasing the club, he had stressed the need for OL Group to raise funds, likely in preparation for the huge financial loss it incurred.
As well as refinancing the club’s debt, Textor’s strategy will also include selling assets.
The asset sale has already been started as the group’s US-based female side, OL Reign, has been put up for sale, with the group set to seek the sale of both that club and OL Féminin over the coming months, in spite of the on-field success.
Textor also owns two other soccer clubs, Brazil’s Botafogo and Belgian minnows RWD Molenbeek, players from both of which have found themselves at Lyon since Textor’s purchase.