Todd Boehly, the American billionaire who recently led the record-setting purchase of Chelsea FC, plans to bring American-style management to the storied club and says football is dramatically undervalued given its global appeal.
Boehly, whose other ownership stakes include the Los Angeles Dodgers, says he’s learned from that experience how to help top players extend their own brands to benefit the club, as well as how to drive new revenue from fans inside and outside the stadium
Boehly and private equity firm Clearlake Capital completed their £4.25 billion ($5.3 billion) takeover of Chelsea from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich last month. Abramovich was forced to put the team up for sale before being sanctioned as part of the UK’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Boehly, in his first extensive comments since buying the club, spoke at the SuperReturn International conference in Berlin.
Following are excerpts from his remarks:
The potential for football’s growth:
We think the way those clubs go to market is years behind the US model. We think the global footprint of this sport is really undeveloped. There are four billion fans of European football. There are 170 million fans of NFL. The NFL generates $15 billion of media money every year. Global club football is a fraction of the NFL media money.
Competition with other clubs for players:
Financial fair play is starting to get some teeth and that will limit ability to acquire players at any price. UEFA takes it seriously and will continue to take it seriously. [More teeth] means financial penalties and disqualification from sporting competitions.
The changing nature of the English Premier League’s top teams:
The “Big Six” [Arsenal FC, Chelsea, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Manchester United FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC] will become the “Big Seven” with the Saudi deal for Newcastle. We believe there is going to be opportunity for everyone to win. There will be a reorganization of the English football league. The opportunity to turn this into a really more valuable asset is available.
Helping players develop their brands:
We are also going to be thinking about how do we get more revenues for the players. How we do make a business better for them,which today is really fragmented. Some guys have someone who does it, some work with an agent, some the clubs help. It is not thinking about how do I go to market as to turn these guys into businessmen.
I think the US is far ahead of that. If you look at LeBron James, for example, he has a whole business and a whole team dedicated to what’s not on the court. So I think there is opportunity to capture some of that American mentality into English sports and really develop them.
Using Liverpool as a model:
If you look at the models that are very successful, Liverpool is a great model. Liverpool generates a couple of hundred million more revenue than Chelsea and they generate earnings, so I think there is an opportunity to compete.