AFC Bournemouth Owner Considers Sale of U.K. Club

The owner of AFC Bournemouth is exploring options for the U.K. soccer club, including a potential sale.

Management reached out to a select group of potential investors and buyers in the spring to provide information on the club and its finances, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News. The club has met with suitors, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Bournemouth is based on the English south coast and is owned by the Russian businessman Maxim Demin, who bought 50% of the club in 2011 and took full control two years later. In 2015, Demin sold a 25% interest in Bournemouth to the Chicago-based Peak6 Investments LLC, before buying it back in 2019.

Deliberations are ongoing, and there’s no certainty they’ll lead to a transaction, according to the people. A representative for Bournemouth declined to comment. A request to contact Demin via the club was made.

The club competes in the Championship, the second tier of English soccer, having been relegated from the Premier League in 2020 after five seasons in the elite division.

Any sale or investment could value Bournemouth at 80 million pounds ($110 million) to 100 million pounds, according to Kieran Maguire, a lecturer in soccer finance at the University of Liverpool. He said any new owner would benefit from two years of parachute payments from the Premier League that cushion the financial blow of dropping out of the top tier.

“Bournemouth has punched above its weight for a number of seasons,” said Maguire.

Nicknamed the Cherries, Bournemouth has like its peers suffered from the financial blow of the Covid-19 crisis. It swung to a loss of 3.5 million pounds in the 2019/20 season as revenue fell to 95.4 million pounds due to the impact of the pandemic, which forced games to be played in empty stadiums and led to broadcaster rebates.

In the previous season, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at the club were 11 million pounds on revenue of 131 million pounds, according to the document.

Demin had outstanding loans to Bournemouth totaling almost 132 million pounds at the end of June 2020, according to accounts filed with the U.K.’s Companies House.

U.K. soccer clubs continue to draw the interest of overseas buyers, especially from the U.S., who are keen to invest in sports assets in a prime European market. Gamechanger 20 Ltd., a company backed by U.S. investors, bought a majority stake in League One club Ipswich Town FC in April. Derby County FC, another Championship team, has also been the subject of takeover interest.

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