Alexandre Dalifard, with AFP / Photo credit: ARNAUD FINISTRE / AFP 17:59 p.m., October 30, 2023

Sitting last in Ligue 1 with only three points from nine league games, Olympique Lyonnais have been in a major crisis since the start of the season. This can be explained by a war between the directors John Textor and the historical boss Jean-Michel Aulas. An internal crisis that affects the club's sporting results and is aggravated by tensions with the supporters.

But what's going on at OL? After nine matchdays in Ligue 1, Les Gones, who have still not found their way to victory, are bottom of the league with only three points (three draws and six defeats). According to statistics agency OptaJean, 14 of the 17 teams that have picked up just three points or less after their first nine games of a Ligue 1 season have been relegated at the end of the season. A worrying situation for the club that has not left the elite of French football since 1990.

14 - 14 of the 17 teams that have only 3 points or less after their first 9 games of a Ligue 1 season were relegated at the end of the season. Nightmare.

— OptaJean (@OptaJean) October 22, 2023

If this crisis persists within the dressing room of Les Gones, it can be explained by several internal crises, in particular the war between the directors John Textor and the former boss Jean-Michel Aulas.

A media war

Since this summer, John Textor and Jean-Michel Aulas, who was brutally ousted in May from the club's management, have been arguing through the media about the financial situation of Olympique Lyonnais. This has escalated to the point that the Holnest company, controlled by Jean-Michel Aulas, announced on August 30 in a press release that it had initiated "several legal actions to preserve its rights in the face of the repeated failures of John Textor and Eagle Football".

This press release announces a defamation lawsuit for remarks made by the American businessman. The latter accused Jean-Michel Aulas of having "hidden" the real financial situation of the club at the time of the sale. "There was an erroneous assessment of OL's real financial situation when the deal was completed last December," he said during a video conference in English organised for a few media. "He hid bad news," he said, referring to the risks associated with the rules of the DNCG, the financial control body of French football.

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Holnest "disputed these allegations in the strongest possible terms," detailing the exchanges between the two parties at the time of the divestiture. "With these remarks, John Textor and Eagle Football are seeking - as they have been doing for more than a year - to evade the commitments to which they are contractually bound to Holnest," Aulas' holding company said. Holnest has also initiated proceedings before the Commercial Court of Lyon and obtained a precautionary seizure of €14.5 million from the club's accounts.

OL limited in their recruitment

In 2022, Olympique Lyonnais took the gamble of betting on its former glories, in particular with the recruitment of Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and Dejan Lovren. A strategy that has upset the club's salary scale. But it didn't pay off in terms of sports results. Especially since the club is now limited in its recruitment by the measures taken last June by the DNCG to control the wage bill and transfer allowances.

The decision taken by French football's financial watchdog limits OL's room for manoeuvre in the transfer market, without however prohibiting transactions. Lyon are due to go back to the club's financial control body in November to reassess their situation.

Change of coach

To start the 2022-2023 season, Olympique Lyonnais relied on the services of Laurent Blanc to take over as coach. A choice that did not pay off for the club and that had even been noted by the person concerned himself. On August 19, after the defeat at home to Montpellier (1-4), Laurent Blanc was asked by our colleagues at Prime Video what needs to be changed in Lyon.

"Maybe we need to change the coach," the coach retorted surprisingly at the time. Words that will eventually catch up with Laurent Blanc. After a final defeat against Paris Saint-Germain (1-4), the coach was sacked on 8 September.

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To replace him, Olympique Lyonnais has called on the services of Italian world champion Fabio Grosso. A difficult mission awaited the former player of the club. But, despite this change of coach, the crisis that the Lyon club is experiencing seems too deep. Since taking charge of OL's professional squad, Fabio Grosso has failed to bring the club its first win of the season.

In five games under the Italian coach, Les Gones have only managed two points (two draws and three defeats). The training session of Olympique Lyonnais' professional squad, scheduled for October 24, has been cancelled by Fabio Grosso, who has been raised by rumours about him. The Italian coach, like many other people within OL, would have been very annoyed by comments reported by a national media, according to which he has already been let go by his players.

Tensions with fans

The crisis seems to be well anchored within Olympique Lyonnais, who will have to fight not to go down to Ligue 2 and meet their sworn enemy, AS Saint-Etienne, relegated in 2022. Les Gones were counting on their match against Olympique de Marseille on Sunday to get back on track. But Lyon will have to wait before getting back on track in the league because the Olympico has been cancelled after serious incidents.

The OL bus was stoned on the road to Stade Vélodrome. An impressive photo of OL coach Fabio Grosso's bloodied face appeared on the front page of the daily newspaper L'Equipe and will remain the strong image of another nightmarish evening for Ligue 1.

Racist gestures spotted in OL's parking lot in Marseille

— THE TEAM (@lequipe) October 29, 2023

At the same time, the daily newspaper L'Equipe mentions racist chants and gestures from Lyon fans present in the visitors' park of the Vélodrome, which could be subject to sanctions by the League's disciplinary committee, like those suffered by PSG after the homophobic chants heard during the clasico against OM, on September 24 at the Parc des Princes. On Monday, OL condemned "strongly the unacceptable racist behaviour of individuals in the park" and "asked for videos to identify the perpetrators of any act contrary to the law but also contrary to its values". A crisis that is exported abroad for Les Gones.