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九州天下登陆

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这家私募公司为什么借钱也要收购英超俱乐部?

这家私募公司为什么借钱也要收购英超俱乐部?

Rey Mashayekhi 2021年02月09日
人们希望九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,ALK Capital公司的收购九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,能为伯恩利俱乐部带来更多的财务保障九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。

元旦前夕九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,英国伯恩利足球俱乐部宣布九州天下登陆,美国私募股权公司ALK Capital已经收购了该足球队的多数股权九州天下登陆。消息一出九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,外界都认为这对伯恩利俱乐部是件大好事九州天下登陆。近年来九州天下登陆,伯恩利俱乐部虽然预算有限九州天下登陆,但球队上下信心坚定九州天下登陆,球风稳健九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,其成绩在激烈的英超联赛中已经算是超水平发挥了九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。人们希望九州天下登陆,ALK Capital公司的收购九州天下登陆,能为伯恩利俱乐部带来更多的财务保障——首先可以解决球队缺钱引进球员的问题九州天下登陆,只有引入有实力的球员九州天下登陆,球队整体实力才能上一个台阶九州天下登陆。

到目前为止,伯恩利的球迷对新球员可以说是望眼欲穿九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。一月份的转会窗口期已经关闭了,但伯恩利俱乐部并未签下任何新球员九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。眼看赛季过半九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,俱乐部的排名还处在联赛下游九州天下登陆。所以球迷不禁会想九州天下登陆,ALK的收购九州天下登陆,究竟能给这家俱乐部带来什么新气象九州天下登陆九州天下登陆?

上周二,英国《卫报》有关这笔收购的最新细节。这笔1.7亿英镑(约合2.31亿美元)的收购款包含大量债务九州天下登陆,属于一种杠杆收购九州天下登陆。据报道,ALK的负责人是前花旗集团高管艾伦?佩斯。在这笔收购款里九州天下登陆,有6000万英镑(约合8200万美元)是从亿万富翁迈克尔?戴尔的私人投资公司借来的贷款。这笔贷款是用伯恩利俱乐部的收入担保的九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,它现在转到了俱乐部的帐上九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,贷款年利率虽未披露,但据信超过了9%九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。此外九州天下登陆,据说ALK还从伯恩利俱乐部自己的账上拿出了4000万英镑(5400万美元),支付给了俱恩利俱乐部的前老板作为头期款九州天下登陆。这样一来,ALK真正自掏腰包的部分其实是很少的九州天下登陆。

从最近公布的财报看九州天下登陆,伯恩利公司并没有欠什么外债九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,而且账上还有4200万英镑的现金。而被ALK杠杆收购后九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,它的资产负债表反而变难看了,俱乐部背上了沉重的债务包袱,未来财政状况更加捉襟见肘也说不定九州天下登陆。 (本月早些时候有消息称,ALK已经同意九州天下登陆,如果它未能支付三笔余款九州天下登陆,就将把俱乐部交还给原老板九州天下登陆。)艾伦?佩斯则为这笔收购做了辩解九州天下登陆,他称这笔收购是“绝对合理和可持续的”九州天下登陆,ALK是“为了长期目的”而收购伯恩利的。

ALK的发言人向《财富》提交了一份伯恩利俱乐部的声明九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。声明表示:“伯恩利足球俱乐部的现金储备在收购后仍然保持良好,与其他英超俱乐部相比,处于一个较好的水平九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。在新东家的领导下九州天下登陆,它将处于一个能够蓬勃发展的有利地位九州天下登陆?!?/p>

近年来,到欧洲收购足球俱乐部的私募公司不在少数九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,而且其中很多都是美国公司,他们大肆收购欧洲各地的球队九州天下登陆,都看准了足球这项运动在全世界日益增长的吸引力九州天下登陆,和利润丰厚的电视转播合同九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。作为全球最激动人心九州天下登陆、竞争最激烈的联赛九州天下登陆,英超更是吸引了无数球迷的关注——尤其是它的电视转播合同令其他欧洲联赛相形见绌九州天下登陆。2015年九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,阿波罗全球管理公司(Apollo Global Management)的乔希?哈里斯和黑石集团的戴维?布利策联手收购了南伦敦的水晶宫足球俱乐部的控股权——这两人还拥有NBA的费城76人队和NHL的新泽西魔鬼队的控股权九州天下登陆。最近九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,硅谷巨头银湖投资也斥资5亿美元九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,收购了总部在阿布扎比的城市足球集团(City Football Group)的少数股权,该集团在全球拥有多家足球俱乐部,其中就包括英超的曼城俱乐部九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。

不过,美国人对英国俱乐部的投资并非总是成功的。美国人的这种过度杠杆化的资本游戏隐藏了很大风险,一旦爆雷九州天下登陆,甚至会在球迷中引发骚乱九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,并且导致俱乐部陷入严重的财务困境九州天下登陆,这种事并非没有先例九州天下登陆。在ALK对伯恩利俱乐部的收购中,这家公司的私募特性,就让一些人想到了过去几起失败的交易九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,不禁一些球迷和观察人士对这笔交易有了“做成夹生饭”的担心九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。

利物浦、曼联殷鉴不远

被杠杆收购折腾得最惨痛的案例九州天下登陆,就是英超的利物浦足球俱乐部九州天下登陆,它是欧洲足球史上最荣耀的俱乐部之一九州天下登陆,也是目前的卫冕冠军九州天下登陆。2007年九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,美国投资者汤姆???怂购颓侵?吉列特收购了利物浦九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,结果使该俱乐部背上了数亿英镑的债务。在金融?九州天下登陆;蟮男糯羲跏逼?,俱乐部的老板们发现自己已经无力融资九州天下登陆,结果导致了俱乐部的财富缩水九州天下登陆,引发了利物浦球迷的大规木胖萏煜碌锹??挂榫胖萏煜碌锹骄胖萏煜碌锹剑钪战憷植客频搅似撇谋咴?九州天下登陆。最终,法庭只好下令将利物浦出售给了现任老板(也是美国公司)——总部位于波士顿的芬威体育集团(Fenway Sports Group)九州天下登陆,这才将利物浦从破产边缘拯救了出来九州天下登陆。

另一个反面典型是曼联,和利物浦一样,它也是英超最大最成功的俱乐部之一九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。它现在的老板也是美国投资者——格雷泽家族九州天下登陆。格雷泽家族还拥有NFL的坦帕湾海盗队(Tampa Bay Buccaners)九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。2005年九州天下登陆,格雷泽家族举债5亿英镑抵押俱乐部的资产,用的是跟ALK同样的套路九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,为此它需要每年支付几千万英镑的利息九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。作为世界上最财大气粗的俱乐部之一,曼联是有足够的收入来支付这些费用的,同时依然能够打造出一支高收入和高竞争力的球队。虽然如此,但格雷泽家族的财务策略——比如在高额债务让俱乐部的财力持续缩水的情况下九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,格雷泽家族依然为自己发放高额分红等九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,仍引发了球迷的不安九州天下登陆,甚至引起了英国政府官员的担忧九州天下登陆。

当然,伯恩利俱乐部被收购后的债务水平九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,还远远不及这两大英超巨头的杠杆水平??墒遣骼氖杖胍苍对侗炔簧下屠锲?,更何况受疫情影响,各俱乐部现在都是勒紧裤腰带过日子,由于球迷没法进入球场看球九州天下登陆,英超各俱乐部的损失累计已达数十亿美元。另外,如果伯恩利俱乐部的运气不佳九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,成绩滑落到了20个俱乐部里的最后三位九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,那就难逃降级命运,届时它还有没有能力还上这样一笔债务九州天下登陆,只怕要打上一个大大的问号九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。如果这种最悲观的情景出现了,伯恩利俱乐部只有变卖家产一条路可走,包括卖掉队中最优秀的球员九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,甚至是卖掉俱乐部旗下拥有138年历史的Turf Moor球场九州天下登陆。

在ALK提供的俱乐部声明中,伯恩利俱乐啊的新老板表示九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,他们的财务模式“考虑到了所有的经济情况,包括球场以内和球场之外的情况九州天下登陆九州天下登陆?九州天下登陆九州天下登陆!辈⒈硎?九州天下登陆,ALK将“致力于未来几年对俱乐部、对球队和球场设施进行投资”九州天下登陆。它还特别强调九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,ALK将证明“事实胜于雄辩”九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。

目前九州天下登陆,英国乃至欧洲大多数国家的足球管理部门九州天下登陆,尚未对限制俱乐部杠杆收购出台任何规定九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,这就给投资者搞“四两拨千金”的杠杆收购九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆、攫取欧洲优质足球资产留出了操作空间九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。如果一切都像ALK公司计划的那样,像伯恩利这样的俱乐部倒还可以做到可持续化运营九州天下登陆。但如果“计划不如变化快”,那么历史上已经有充分证据表明九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,为什么球迷有理由为这些俱乐部的长期健康和生存能力感到紧张九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

元旦前夕九州天下登陆,英国伯恩利足球俱乐部宣布九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,美国私募股权公司ALK Capital已经收购了该足球队的多数股权。消息一出,外界都认为这对伯恩利俱乐部是件大好事九州天下登陆。近年来,伯恩利俱乐部虽然预算有限九州天下登陆,但球队上下信心坚定九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,球风稳健九州天下登陆,其成绩在激烈的英超联赛中已经算是超水平发挥了。人们希望九州天下登陆,ALK Capital公司的收购九州天下登陆,能为伯恩利俱乐部带来更多的财务保障——首先可以解决球队缺钱引进球员的问题九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,只有引入有实力的球员九州天下登陆,球队整体实力才能上一个台阶。

到目前为止,伯恩利的球迷对新球员可以说是望眼欲穿。一月份的转会窗口期已经关闭了九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,但伯恩利俱乐部并未签下任何新球员。眼看赛季过半九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,俱乐部的排名还处在联赛下游九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。所以球迷不禁会想,ALK的收购,究竟能给这家俱乐部带来什么新气象九州天下登陆九州天下登陆?

上周二九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,英国《卫报》有关这笔收购的最新细节九州天下登陆。这笔1.7亿英镑(约合2.31亿美元)的收购款包含大量债务,属于一种杠杆收购九州天下登陆。据报道,ALK的负责人是前花旗集团高管艾伦?佩斯九州天下登陆。在这笔收购款里,有6000万英镑(约合8200万美元)是从亿万富翁迈克尔?戴尔的私人投资公司借来的贷款九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。这笔贷款是用伯恩利俱乐部的收入担保的九州天下登陆,它现在转到了俱乐部的帐上,贷款年利率虽未披露九州天下登陆,但据信超过了9%。此外九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,据说ALK还从伯恩利俱乐部自己的账上拿出了4000万英镑(5400万美元)九州天下登陆,支付给了俱恩利俱乐部的前老板作为头期款九州天下登陆。这样一来,ALK真正自掏腰包的部分其实是很少的。

从最近公布的财报看九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,伯恩利公司并没有欠什么外债九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,而且账上还有4200万英镑的现金九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。而被ALK杠杆收购后九州天下登陆,它的资产负债表反而变难看了九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,俱乐部背上了沉重的债务包袱九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,未来财政状况更加捉襟见肘也说不定。 (本月早些时候有消息称,ALK已经同意,如果它未能支付三笔余款九州天下登陆,就将把俱乐部交还给原老板九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。)艾伦?佩斯则为这笔收购做了辩解九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,他称这笔收购是“绝对合理和可持续的”,ALK是“为了长期目的”而收购伯恩利的。

ALK的发言人向《财富》提交了一份伯恩利俱乐部的声明九州天下登陆。声明表示:“伯恩利足球俱乐部的现金储备在收购后仍然保持良好九州天下登陆,与其他英超俱乐部相比九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,处于一个较好的水平。在新东家的领导下九州天下登陆,它将处于一个能够蓬勃发展的有利地位?九州天下登陆!?/p>

近年来,到欧洲收购足球俱乐部的私募公司不在少数,而且其中很多都是美国公司,他们大肆收购欧洲各地的球队九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,都看准了足球这项运动在全世界日益增长的吸引力九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,和利润丰厚的电视转播合同九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。作为全球最激动人心九州天下登陆九州天下登陆、竞争最激烈的联赛九州天下登陆,英超更是吸引了无数球迷的关注——尤其是它的电视转播合同令其他欧洲联赛相形见绌。2015年九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,阿波罗全球管理公司(Apollo Global Management)的乔希?哈里斯和黑石集团的戴维?布利策联手收购了南伦敦的水晶宫足球俱乐部的控股权——这两人还拥有NBA的费城76人队和NHL的新泽西魔鬼队的控股权。最近,硅谷巨头银湖投资也斥资5亿美元,收购了总部在阿布扎比的城市足球集团(City Football Group)的少数股权九州天下登陆,该集团在全球拥有多家足球俱乐部,其中就包括英超的曼城俱乐部九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。

不过九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,美国人对英国俱乐部的投资并非总是成功的九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。美国人的这种过度杠杆化的资本游戏隐藏了很大风险九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,一旦爆雷,甚至会在球迷中引发骚乱,并且导致俱乐部陷入严重的财务困境,这种事并非没有先例九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。在ALK对伯恩利俱乐部的收购中,这家公司的私募特性九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,就让一些人想到了过去几起失败的交易九州天下登陆,不禁一些球迷和观察人士对这笔交易有了“做成夹生饭”的担心九州天下登陆。

利物浦、曼联殷鉴不远

被杠杆收购折腾得最惨痛的案例九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,就是英超的利物浦足球俱乐部九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,它是欧洲足球史上最荣耀的俱乐部之一九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,也是目前的卫冕冠军九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。2007年九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,美国投资者汤姆???怂购颓侵?吉列特收购了利物浦九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,结果使该俱乐部背上了数亿英镑的债务九州天下登陆。在金融?;蟮男糯羲跏逼?九州天下登陆,俱乐部的老板们发现自己已经无力融资,结果导致了俱乐部的财富缩水九州天下登陆,引发了利物浦球迷的大规??挂?,最终将俱乐部推到了破产的边缘九州天下登陆。最终九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,法庭只好下令将利物浦出售给了现任老板(也是美国公司)——总部位于波士顿的芬威体育集团(Fenway Sports Group)九州天下登陆,这才将利物浦从破产边缘拯救了出来九州天下登陆。

另一个反面典型是曼联,和利物浦一样九州天下登陆,它也是英超最大最成功的俱乐部之一。它现在的老板也是美国投资者——格雷泽家族九州天下登陆。格雷泽家族还拥有NFL的坦帕湾海盗队(Tampa Bay Buccaners)。2005年九州天下登陆,格雷泽家族举债5亿英镑抵押俱乐部的资产,用的是跟ALK同样的套路九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,为此它需要每年支付几千万英镑的利息。作为世界上最财大气粗的俱乐部之一,曼联是有足够的收入来支付这些费用的九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,同时依然能够打造出一支高收入和高竞争力的球队九州天下登陆。虽然如此,但格雷泽家族的财务策略——比如在高额债务让俱乐部的财力持续缩水的情况下九州天下登陆,格雷泽家族依然为自己发放高额分红等,仍引发了球迷的不安,甚至引起了英国政府官员的担忧。

当然,伯恩利俱乐部被收购后的债务水平九州天下登陆,还远远不及这两大英超巨头的杠杆水平【胖萏煜碌锹??墒遣骼氖杖胍苍对侗炔簧下屠锲?九州天下登陆,更何况受疫情影响九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,各俱乐部现在都是勒紧裤腰带过日子九州天下登陆,由于球迷没法进入球场看球,英超各俱乐部的损失累计已达数十亿美元。另外,如果伯恩利俱乐部的运气不佳,成绩滑落到了20个俱乐部里的最后三位,那就难逃降级命运九州天下登陆,届时它还有没有能力还上这样一笔债务,只怕要打上一个大大的问号九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。如果这种最悲观的情景出现了九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,伯恩利俱乐部只有变卖家产一条路可走九州天下登陆,包括卖掉队中最优秀的球员九州天下登陆,甚至是卖掉俱乐部旗下拥有138年历史的Turf Moor球场九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。

在ALK提供的俱乐部声明中九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,伯恩利俱乐啊的新老板表示,他们的财务模式“考虑到了所有的经济情况九州天下登陆,包括球场以内和球场之外的情况九州天下登陆九州天下登陆【胖萏煜碌锹?!辈⒈硎?九州天下登陆,ALK将“致力于未来几年对俱乐部九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆、对球队和球场设施进行投资”。它还特别强调九州天下登陆,ALK将证明“事实胜于雄辩”。

目前,英国乃至欧洲大多数国家的足球管理部门九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,尚未对限制俱乐部杠杆收购出台任何规定九州天下登陆,这就给投资者搞“四两拨千金”的杠杆收购、攫取欧洲优质足球资产留出了操作空间。如果一切都像ALK公司计划的那样九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,像伯恩利这样的俱乐部倒还可以做到可持续化运营九州天下登陆。但如果“计划不如变化快”九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,那么历史上已经有充分证据表明九州天下登陆九州天下登陆,为什么球迷有理由为这些俱乐部的长期健康和生存能力感到紧张九州天下登陆九州天下登陆。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

When Burnley Football Club announced, on New Year’s Eve, that American private equity firm ALK Capital had acquired a majority stake in the soccer team, it was viewed as a boon for the club from the modest town in northwest England. Burnley have been consistent overachievers in England’s fiercely competitive Premier League in recent years, getting by on a limited budget and a determined, pragmatic style of play. The ALK takeover, it was hoped, would provide added financial security—and a much-needed injection of cash to buy players who could take the team to the next level.

So far, Burnley fans have yet to see those players; the club didn’t make any new signings in the just-closed January transfer window and finds itself battling at the lower end of the league standings with less than half of the season remaining. Instead, fans are left to ponder what the club may have just gotten itself into amid new revelations about ALK’s acquisition.

On Tuesday, the Guardian reported fresh details about the private equity takeover—a heavily indebted, £170 million ($231 million) transaction that was effectively a leveraged buyout of the soccer club. ALK, led by former Citigroup executive Alan Pace, is said to have financed the deal with a roughly £60 million ($82 million) loan from billionaire Michael Dell’s private investment firm; that loan is backed by Burnley’s own revenues and is now on the club’s books, and comes with an undisclosed annual interest rate believed to be north of 9%. What’s more, ALK reportedly funded the remainder of its initial payment to Burnley’s previous owners with up to £40 million ($54 million) from the club’s own cash reserves, with the private equity firm itself putting down only a sliver of the money upfront.

Whereas Burnley was very recently a debt-free entity with £42 million in cash on hand, according to its most recently publicized financial statements, the ALK deal has likely left its balance sheet in a much poorer state—with the club left holding the bag should things take a turn for the worse. (Earlier this month, it emerged that ALK had agreed to simply hand the club back to its former owners if it failed to make three remaining, deferred payments on its purchase.) Pace, for his part, has defended the transaction that netted him Burnley as “absolutely reasonable and sustainable,” adding that ALK is “here for the long haul.”

“Burnley Football Club’s cash reserves remain in a healthy position following the takeover and compare favorably to other Premier League clubs,” according to a club statement provided to Fortune by an ALK spokesperson. “It is well-placed to thrive under its new ownership.”

Private equity players—many of them American investors—have flocked to European soccer in recent years, snapping up clubs across the continent in a bid to capitalize on the global game’s ever-growing appeal and its ever-lucrative television contracts. With a reputation as perhaps the most exciting and competitive league in the world, the Premier League has drawn outsize attention—especially as the league’s TV deals have grown to dwarf those of its European counterparts. In 2015, Josh Harris of Apollo Global Management and David Blitzer of Blackstone Group teamed to take a controlling stake in South London’s Crystal Palace F.C. (the pair also own the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils). More recently, Silicon Valley behemoth Silver Lake Partners forked out $500 million for a minority interest in Abu Dhabi–backed City Football Group, whose global portfolio of soccer clubs includes England’s Manchester City F.C.

But the history of American investment in English clubs is a checkered one, complete with over-leveraged takeovers that took a turn for the worse, sparked unrest among supporters, and often left the clubs in question in dire financial straits. In the case of ALK’s acquisition of Burnley, the nature of the private equity firm’s buyout has evoked memories of past deals gone wrong—raising concerns among some fans and observers that the club has bitten off more than it can chew.

Liverpool, Man United as cautionary tales

The most infamous example of how an ill-fated leveraged buyout can bring a club to its knees is Liverpool F.C., one of the most decorated clubs in the history of European soccer and the current defending Premier League champions. In 2007, American investors Tom Hicks and George Gillett acquired Liverpool in a deal that saddled the club with hundreds of millions of pounds of debt. When, in the post–financial crisis credit crunch, the owners found themselves unable to refinance that debt, it led to a downturn in the club’s fortunes that sparked major protests among Liverpool fans and eventually drove the club to the brink of insolvency. In the end, only a court-ordered sale to the club’s current (and also American) owners, Boston-based Fenway Sports Group, saved Liverpool from that brink.

Yet another, ongoing concern is the situation at Manchester United F.C., which, like Liverpool, holds a privileged place as one of England’s biggest and most successful clubs. That club is also owned by American investors, the Glazer family (who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers); when the Glazers bought their controlling stake in United in 2005, they borrowed more than £500 million against the club’s assets—a level of indebtedness that commands tens of millions of pounds in annual interest payments. As one of the richest clubs in world soccer, United has the revenues to make those payments and still put out a highly paid, competitive team on the field. Still, the Glazers’ financial tactics—including paying out lucrative dividends to themselves while the club’s massive debts continue to drain its coffers—have also spurred fan unrest and even raised concerns from British government officials.

Of course, Burnley’s debts post-ALK acquisition don’t come near the levels assumed by those larger English giants after their leveraged takeovers. But neither do Burnley’s revenues—particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the sport economically, keeping fans out of stadiums and costing clubs billions of dollars in lost revenues. Should Burnley’s luck in the Premier League run out (if it finishes in the bottom three out of 20 clubs, the team would be relegated to England’s significantly less lucrative second division), it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether the club would be able to service the debt accrued as a result of the ALK deal. A nightmare scenario would see Burnley have to sell off assets—including its best players or even Turf Moor, its 138-year-old, club-owned stadium—in order to do so.

In the club statement provided by ALK, Burnley’s new owners say their financial model “considers all economic circumstances, both on and off the football pitch.” They add that the private equity firm is “committed to investing in this club, the team, and facilities over the coming years,” and note that ALK’s “actions will speak louder than any words.”

In the meantime, English soccer’s governing authorities, like most of their European counterparts, have yet to impose any rules curbing leveraged takeovers of their clubs. Investors are able to rush into the sport in search of glory and gains, picking up clubs with little money down and lots of debt dumped onto the clubs themselves. Should things go according to plan, clubs like Burnley should still be able to operate in a sustainable manner, just as Pace suggests. But if they don’t, there’s plenty of historical evidence as to why fans should feel nervous about the long-term health and viability of their beloved clubs.

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