how Aulas struggled on all fronts…until exhaustion?

Jean-Michel Aulas has opened the door to a potential departure from Lyon due to the behavior and incidents with some supporters during the victory against Montpellier (5-2) this Saturday. If the president of OL seemed touched, he does not intend to give up, after the last very hectic months behind the scenes.

OL won a crucial match against Montpellier (5-2) this Saturday during the 34th day of Ligue 1. Still in the race (despite their 8th place) to clinch a European qualification, the Gones had to face the anger of some of the supporters during the match. Furious after a gesture of humor from striker Karl-Toko Ekambi, the ultras expressed their dissatisfaction vehemently, whistled the Cameroonian…and pushed Jean-Michel Aulas to intervene.

Still as present in the daily life of his club, the Rhone president showed a form of weariness after a particularly complicated 2021-2022 season for OL and marked by numerous incidents with the fans. “We got through a situation that is not acceptable. If this were to continue, I would prefer to leave, notably dropped JMA in the face of the press. Football is not that. The value of a club, c is the value of his supporters over time but at the moment T it is the players and the players are respectable.”

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Aulas met the supporters after the match

In the wake of this passage in the mixed zone after OL-Montpellier, Jean-Michel Aulas spoke with certain representatives of the groups of supporters. In the “VDI”, the road access that surrounds the stadium under the stands, an appointment with the angry fringe is quickly organized. Eye to eye, the president of OL repeated what he said to journalists.

The exchange took place calmly, the bout of fever subsided after the establishment of a cordon of CRS in prevention and the securing of access to the area reserved for interviews with journalists, which adjoins locker rooms. The Lyon boss is even applauded by these same fans at the end of a constructive dialogue, like a letter he wrote to the two main groups of supporters in the wake of the elimination against West Ham, inviting them to a meeting. The one with the 1950s was able to take place the day before the match against Montpellier, while the one with the Bad Gones was simply postponed due to logistical constraints.

A season disrupted by incidents

In a sporting season made up of ups and downs, OL clung to their dream of qualifying for European competition. By winning against their Hérault rival this Saturday, Peter Bosz’s Gones gave themselves the right to dream even if they still have to make up five points behind with fifth place, synonymous with a ticket for the Conference League, held by Nice . Off the field, the incidents of the match against Montpellier constituted the umpteenth disruption of a stormy 2021-2022 campaign with the supporters.

If the dialogue is constant between the club and the ultras, this is also how Jean-Michel Aulas wishes. Despite the slippages of his own fans, the president of OL does not spare them. Nearly fifty commercial stadium bans have been issued after incidents since the start of this season that leave their mark:

– on November 21, bottle throw during OL-OM with one point less in the standings

– on December 17, the incidents at the PFC and the exclusion from the Coupe de France

– on April 17, some “supporters”, who had decreed the boycott of the match against Bordeaux in the match following the European elimination against West Ham, “invite themselves” to the parking lot outside the hotel de la mise green, two hours before departure and burn tires, crack smoke and shout insults when the bus leaves for the stadium.

Aulas tired by the 2021-2022 season

It is clear that all these incidents tire the leader in a 35th year of presidency where the troubles accumulate after a 2020-2021 season already ended with a hiccup against Nice, during the last day when the players take the crampons in the carpet a handful of minutes from the lucrative Champions League.

The 2021-2022 campaign got off to a flying start, in the fall with the resignation of “its” sporting director, Juninho. The 5,000-person gauge was then put back in place, due to the resumption of the pandemic, in January during two of the biggest matches of the year against PSG and ASSE. All in a post-Covid financial context that is hurting the accounts.

In the process, there is the announced departure of the reference shareholders Pathé and IDG Capital who must be replaced (six files are on the table and perhaps others for a new round of funding hoped for by the end of May) through sustained work with bankers. All this without forgetting the support for the staff in a “historic” sports season, namely the worst of the modern era in the 21st century, and in the face of the sling on social networks. Jean-Michel Aulas multiplies meetings with the press, such as the day after the European elimination (1-1, 0-3 against West Ham).

Aulas is not going to abandon OL

In the memory of relatives and followers, there have never been so many (heavy) files to be carried out at the same time for the Rhone direction and President Aulas. And the days have only 24 hours, the weeks have only 7 days… Hence this weariness, legitimate and understandable, displayed clearly by Jean-Michel Aulas with words but also by a face marked by repeated events.

But at 73, Jean-Michel Aulas does not intend to let go of the management of the institution of which he is the historic and reference shareholder, especially when it pitches as is the case at the moment between capitalistic and sporting uncertainties. With an upcoming season that presents itself, at the moment T, without the midweek meetings in Europe, the emblematic president of OL does not have the impression of letting go.

Jean-Guy Lebreton with Edward Jay

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