How would a private equity firm invest in the English Football League?
Private equity firm, CVC Capital Partners (CVC), has had a relatively long affiliation with sport including Moto GP and Formula One. Now the buyout firm is developing an investment model that takes minority stakes in other sporting competitions, exemplified by their acquisition of a 27% stake in Premiership Rugby in December 2018, 28% of Guinness Pro14 in May 2020 and their current negotiations to buy into the Six Nations. An area CVC are increasingly interested in is football and in particular the European football market which saw revenues totalling €28.9 billion in the 2018/19 season. At the time of writing, CVC and Advent International have joined forces to take a minority stake in Serie A (the top-tier of the Italian football league), having also previously been in discussions with FIFA about a revamped Club World Cup and with Real Madrid regarding a breakaway global league.
This article examines whether a CVC-style private equity (PE) investment model can be replicated in the English Football League (the EFL), being the lower (below Premier League) levels of English football. Specifically, it looks at:
- why PE funds are interested in sports leagues
- examples of PE investments into sport
- characteristics of the PE investment model for sport
- some of the key negotiation points for a hypothetical PE investment into EFL
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- Tags: Broadcasting | Commercial | Corporate | English Football League | Football | Formula One | Governance | Italy | Private Equity | Regulation | Rugby Union | Seria A | UK
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Sam joined Harbottle and Lewis as a trainee solicitor in August 2019 and is currently sitting in the Commercial Litigation department, having previously spent time in the Corporate department. He has experience in dealing with commercial agreements for clients within the sports industry.