Pringles famous tagline is “once you pop, you can’t stop”. Same could be said for buying sports teams, if you’re billionaire businessman Bill Foley. The owner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights and Indoor Football League’s Vegas Knight Hawks has added another property to his portfolio.
Foley’s Black Knight Football Club has purchased the Premier League’s AFC Bournemouth. Bournemouth, currently 14th in the league of 20 teams, has been doing well over the last several years. Under the ownership of their prior owner, Russian-born businessman Maxim Demin, the club went from “League One” (the third highest league) to “Championship League” (second highest league) to the top, Premier League. If you want an explanation about “relegation” and how that works, watch this video:
Bill Foley isn’t the first American to buy a soccer club. Ten other Premier League teams are at least partially owned stateside. That’s not to mention actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The pair teamed up to buy Wrexham football club in a lesser league. You can follow that adventure in their FX series Welcome To Wrexham.
There are mixed feelings about American ownership
Some English football fans are weary of outside ownership. When Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Penguins, entered the league and bought Liverpool FC, they failed to make a connection with the local community and during the pandemic they lost a lot of face. They also attempted to create an entirely new league that would disrupt the relegation system that makes football such a popular sport there. If the Patriots, Chiefs, Cowboys and Bucs owners decided to defect and make a new league… imagine that but way way worse.
Thankfully Bill is smarter than that (we think)… and is promising an immediate improvement at the stadium, a new training center and an infusion of cash into the women’s and girls’ teams that are a part of Bournemouth.