Growth, Sport Business | Aug 29, 2019

From the brink of relegation to qualification for the Champions League, the last two seasons have been the very definition of a rollercoaster ride for French Ligue 1 club Lille OSC.

The club was mired in a relegation battle during the 2017/18 season and were destined to go down, even after the side guaranteed their mathematical safety, as financial turmoil behind the scenes threatened its status in French football’s top division.

It was a turbulent time for owner Gerard Lopez, the tech and energy investor who had completed his purchase of the club in January 2017. The Spanish-Luxembourgian began to make changes, learning quickly from his own mistakes as a team president. After avoiding relegation by the narrowest of margins, the following season brought about a phoenix-like rise, as the team secured a second place finish in the league and qualification for this season’s Champions League, the pinnacle of domestic European football.

In this short interview, recorded behind the scenes during Leaders Week New York, Lopez explains how he changed his own attitude and demeanour, as well as implement some fundamental shifts in the way the club works, to reshape Lille’s fortunes. On the agenda:

  • The fundamental changes he made at the club; including the hiring of a new coach – Christophe Galtier;
  • When it’s appropriate to play a more hands-on role as a football club owner;
  • The strategy for handling the media space;
  • And why he invested in French football.


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Lopez speaking alongside Jeff Berding of FC Cincinnati and Frank Saviano of Proskauer during Leaders Week New York 2019

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