Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Billionaire enters into partnership with five former players to own Salford City FC

Published: 4:02 AM, September 23,

LONDON — Billionaire Peter Lim has entered into a partnership with five former Manchester United players and taken a 50 per cent share in Salford City FC, which play in the eighth tier of the English league system.

This comes as Mr Lim, who is estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth around £1.5 billion (S$3.11 billion), stands poised to complete his purchase of a 50 per cent stake in Spain’s Valencia. The Singaporean was also linked with a move to buy Liverpool in 2010.

Former Manchester United players Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt have equal shares in the other 50 per cent of Salford City, which are top of their division. They took a stake this year with the goal of developing local talent and ultimately taking the club into the Football League.

In a statement, the five said Mr Lim’s experience would be invaluable as they continue with their unlikely quest to turn Salford, located on the outskirts of Manchester, into a football force. “When we set out upon this journey, we always knew that, at some point, we wanted external partners involved, people who would share our vision for Salford City. Peter’s love of sport, above all football, is well documented,” the statement said.

“He has an incredible track record in business as well as youth and community engagement, especially at grassroots level. Peter’s experience and knowledge can help take the club to where we believe they can be.”

The move is awaiting approval by the English Football Association, which should be a formality.

A spokesperson for Mr Lim told media outlets in the United Kingdom: “Peter met the lads a few months ago and they explained their plans and rationale for Salford City, the academy and the investment in grassroots football. What the lads want to accomplish resonated strongly with Peter, who shares (with them) a common belief in youth development through sports. Peter has a high regard for footballers’ talents and dedication to their sport.

“He is convinced that the legends’ sporting training has imbued them with values such as humility, discipline and the tenacity to succeed. He hopes these values can be cultivated in the young footballers who will come through Salford City’s programme.

“The management of the club on a day-to-day basis, as announced in March, will remain the same. This arrangement is important to all concerned.”

Salford’s chairperson Karen Baird said: “It’s been a great start to the season, we are very excited about the future for the club and what can be achieved.

“The most important aspect for us is that we continue to bond with our community and city, and we have assurances this will happen.”

Mr Lim is set to take over Valencia in the coming months and wipe the club’s estimated debt of €200 million (S$326 million), following protracted negotiations with Spanish bank Bankia, Valencia’s main creditor, that began in the middle of May. AGENCIES