Tuesday, 20 April 2021

UEFA To Sign A $7.2Bn Deal With Centricus To Stop European Super League


 Football body discusses financing to revamp flagship tournament

- JP Morgan Chase & Co is providing €4 billion to bankroll the European Super League

UEFA is in discussions with Centricus Asset Management over a €6 billion ($7.2 billion) financing package to overhaul its flagship football tournament and stop plans for a new breakaway Super League, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Switzerland-based sporting body is working with Centricus on a plan to fund a new-look UEFA Champions League tournament, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.

Negotiations are currently ongoing between UEFA and London based Centricus, according to the people. A representative for Centricus declined to comment, while a spokesperson for UEFA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

It comes as UEFA prepares to battle with a new Super League that could mark the biggest upheaval of European football since the 1950s and end the Champions League’s decades long reign as the world’s premier club contest.

A group of the world’s richest football clubs, including Manchester United and Real Madrid, announced plans for the breakaway league starting in August in a statement early Monday.

The marquee names; six from England, three from Italy and three from Spain have signed up so far, would play each other midweek as an alternative to the UEFA tournament. In addition to what will be 15 permanent teams, another five will qualify each year for the Super League.

The €4 billion plan, which is being bankrolled by JPMorgan Chase & Co, has already drawn heavy criticism from domestic leagues and politicians. UEFA has said it could ban Super League team players from national teams that take part in the national Euro and World Cup competitions.

Centricus has been in talks with UEFA for a number of months regarding financing, a person familiar with the matter said. The investment firm had discussed an initial package of about €4.2 billion, which was raised to €6 billion following the rival Super League proposal, the person said.

Centricus, which oversees about $30 billion in assets according to its website, is well connected to large, wealthy institutions in the Middle East and Asia, and helped SoftBank Group Corp raise $100 billion for its massive Vision Fund.

The firm was started in 2016 by Nizar Al-Bassam, a former investment banker at Deutsche Bank AG, and ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Dalinc Ariburnu.

Despite running a small team from London, Centricus has become known for a string of opportunistic deals. It is currently working with Indian commodities tycoon Anil Agarwal on a plan to invest $10 billion in turnaround opportunities in India, and last year made a last-minute pitch to buy TikTok’s operations in several countries for $20 billion.

In 2019 it made a foray into the high-end hotel and resorts sector and bought the iconic Capri Palace Hotel & Spa.

Within the sports industry, Centricus was also part of a consortium, alongside SoftBank and FIFA, to launch a brace of new soccer tournaments, and has held talks to invest in Swiss club FC Basel.

Al Jazeera


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