InsiderSport: On The Ball – Bury, Bolton and Matthew McConaughey

From sponsorship to the ever-expanding world of football media coverage, when it comes to the business of football, InsiderSport has you covered. This edition looks at the plight of Bury, the saving Bolton and MLS expansions.

Austin lands Oscar-winning investor 

Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise Austin FC has unveiled academy award winning actor Matthew McConaughey as a minority owner.

McConaughey was unveiled alongside three other local minority investors including Marius Haas, chief commercial officer at Dell Technologies, energy executive Bryan Sheffield and technology entrepreneur Eddie Margain.

McConaughey commented on the Franchise and his investment: “Austin FC is more than a quality investment FOR Austin, it’s a quality investment IN Austin. The most diverse and borderless game in the world is now coming to one of the most multicultural, creative and diverse cities in the world. Austin FC is a healthy investment in our city’s culture and future.”

With the actors investment, Austin FC become the latest MLS club to add celebrity owners, following on from National Basketball Association (NBA) star James Harden purchasing a minority stake in the Houston Dynamo and the announcement made by the Seattle Sounders unveiling the investment of National Football League (NFL) quarterback Russell Wilson and hip-hop artist Macklemore. 

McConaughey, a Texas native, has long been public regarding his Texas fandom, though the terms of his investment are yet to be released. 

Having been accepted as an  expansion franchise earlier this year, Austin FC will officially become the MLS’ 27th club in 2021.

FC Cincinnati, Nashville SC, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami and St. Louis will join Austin FC as part of the MLS’ rapid expansion club. The integration of all the expansion franchise are set to take place between 2019 and 2022.

Football League expulsion for Bury FC

Following financial turmoil, the EFL has expelled Bury FC from the Football League after 125 years of membership.

The EFL Board cited the concerns over the integrity of the competition and continued the fixture suspensions as being a ‘significant factor’ in the decision.

The Football Association also confirmed that following the suspension, the club won’t be allowed to compete in this season’s FA Cup competition.

The news comes after data analytics company C&N Sporting Risk pulled out of a deal to buy the club from owner Steve Dale shortly before yesterday’s 5pm deadline. 

As a result, League One will now be competed by 23 teams for the rest of the season, with the number of relegation places to League Two also being reduced from four teams to three. 

A statement released by the EFL read: “The EFL Board met earlier this evening and, after a long and detailed discussion, determined that Bury FC’s membership of the English Football League be withdrawn after the deadline passed at 5pm today (Tuesday, August 27) without a successful resolution.

“Despite repeated requests to its owner, Mr Dale, over a sustained period of time, the necessary evidence in respect of how the club would meet its financial commitments, has simply not been provided and, as a result, attentions turned to securing new ownership at the club.

“At its meeting on August 24, 2019, the board agreed a short extension to 5pm today (Tuesday, August 27) to enable Mr Dale and the club to explore the possibility of a proposed sale with C&N Sporting Risk Limited, with Mr Dale having accepted their offer. Following due diligence, C&N Sporting Risk Limited opted not to pursue its interest.

“Therefore, having fully considered all available options, including a number of late expressions of interest provided to the EFL, the EFL Board has unanimously determined with enormous regret that Bury’s membership be withdrawn.”

Bolton safe from expulsion after financial takeover 

The English Football League (EFL) has confirmed that Bolton Wanderers are out of administration following the takeover of the club by Football Ventures. 

Bolton, who were set to follow the same fate as Bury FC after negotiations for the sale of the club supposedly collapsed on 26 August, were given 14 days on Tuesday night to either sell the club or provide proof of adequate funding for the rest of the season. 

Having been granted this extra time, negotiations with the prospective buyers were able to continue, with Football Ventures confirming earlier today that the takeover had been completed, thus securing the club’s Football League status. 

A statement released by the club’s new owners read: “Throughout this lengthy and complicated process, we have remained focused on completion of the deal and nothing else.

“At times it has been difficult to keep our counsel, but we took a decision to remain on the sidelines even when further damage was being inflicted by delays outside of our control.

“It is now imperative that we commence the process of appointing a manager and strengthening the team with the right players to take the club forward.”

Bolton currently sit at the bottom of the League One table after starting the season with a 12 point deduction. Furthermore, Phil Parkinson also resigned last week leaving academy boss Jimmy Phillips as the club’s interim manager.

Paul Appleton, Bolton’s joint-administrator, commented on the takeover and the recent situation the club found itself in: “I’m delighted to say we have finally reached a satisfactory conclusion with the sale to Football Ventures.

“I would like to pay particular tribute to the Eddie Davies Trust and their legal team who, throughout this whole process, have been willing to do everything in their power to ensure Eddie’s incredible legacy was maintained and not sullied.

Appleton concluded by accusing former Bolton owner Ken Anderson of “hampering and frustrating” the deal, before warning that there will be “difficult times ahead.”

Firstbeat Sports to provide Benfica with enhanced data

Portugeuse champions S.L. Benfica has partnered with Firstbeat Sports, as the club looks to enhance player performances with the aid of advanced analytics.

As the club to secure back-to-back Portuguese titles, it will introduce Firstbeat Sports’ Premium player monitoring solution which provides a wide variety of expansive data aimed at optimising performance, fast-tracking player development, and reducing injury risk.

Read more.

St. Louis awarded MLS’ 28th franchise spot

St. Louis will become the first female majority-owned club in MLS history after the MLS confirmed it as its newest franchise.

The club will embark on its MLS journey in 2022, in a brand new stadium located in the Downtown West district of St. Louis, the proposed stadium will be a central element to a major development project in Downtown West. 

Issuing a statement, Commissioner Don Garber emphasised: “It is with great pride that we welcome St. Louis to Major League Soccer. St. Louis is a city with a rich soccer tradition, and it is a market we have considered since the league’s inception. Our league becomes stronger today with the addition of the city’s deeply dedicated soccer fans, and the committed and innovative local ownership group led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, the Taylor family, and Jim Kavanaugh.”

St. Louis has a rich soccer history and a track record for producing top level talent. Several current professionals include Will Bruin (Seattle Sounders), Joe Willis (Houston Dynamo), Tim Ream (Fulham), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen) and Becky Sauerbrunn of the NWSL’s Utah Royals and the FIFA World Cup champion US women’s national team.

Club board member Carolyn Kindle Betz commented: “Our ownership group has come a long way since we first announced our bid and it’s an incredible feeling to now be able to say, St. Louis is home to the first official majority female-led ownership group in MLS. 

“Our MLS team and stadium will only add to St. Louis’ renaissance currently underway and will provide us with a great opportunity to bring together many different segments of the community, uniting people in their love for the game.”

MLS currently has 24 teams competing in 2019, with Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC joining next season followed by Austin FC in 2021. St. Louis will become the 28th team. The league in April announced plans for the league to grow to 30 teams.

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