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Dec 28, 2012

Lyon chief: PSG investment good for French football

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has praised the massive investment of Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari owners, hailing them 'the saviours of French football'.

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Since taking charge at the Parc des Princes in summer 2011, Qatar Sports Investments has pumped some €250 million into the PSG squad with stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva ensuring full houses wherever Carlo Ancelotti's men play.

Additionally, the money paid for the rights to show Ligue 1 up to 2016 by BeIn Sport, the TV channel set up in France by Qatari-backed Al-Jazeera, has helped give clubs in the top flight a solid financial platform, according to Aulas.

"Thanks to their investment, the Qataris have saved French football. Not necessarily clubs like Lyon and Marseille, well-structured clubs with solid shareholders. But they have saved middling clubs like Saint-Etienne, who - without them - would have been in trouble," Aulas, 63, told Le Parisien. "Their arrival is a windfall, and not to recognise that would be stupid."

It is not the first time in recent weeks Aulas has given his thoughts on his own club's title rivals. After having told the Qatari owners he "would not change anything" when coach Carlo Ancelotti's post looked in jeopardy, Aulas became embroiled in a war of words with PSG sporting director Leonardo following a clash between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and OL defender Dejan Lovren.

Though Aulas remains overwhelmingly positive about the meteoric progress made by the club from the capital, PSG's decision to recruit exclusively from Serie A last summer is something which the OL supremo would like to see change.

"The only [criticism] that could be made is that they don't buy players on the French market as we did when we were more economically powerful," Aulas said. "I think PSG's success is a good thing, which is going to bring points for France in the UEFA rankings. The real policy to follow is to push PLM [Paris, Lyon and Marseille, the current top three] to make the league attractive."

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