Who are Inner Circle Sports, the firm trying to sell Sunderland AFC?

Ellis Short

Ellis Short

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Fresh reports today claim that Sunderland owner Ellis Short has engaged the services of a New York firm to try and sell the club.

Short is using the services of New York-based investment bank Inner Circle Sports in his search for a buyer.
A Sunderland statement confirmed that there was a brochure in existence for anyone interested in the club.

Interestingly, Inner Circle Sports were the same company that brokered Short’s acquisition of Sunderland from the Irish-based Drumaville consortium in 2009.

But what else do we know about them?

Who are Inner Circle Sports?

They are a boutique investment bank focused on the global sports industry that specialises in providing corporate finance and capital raising services to help with buy-outs, the selling of companies and also refinancing. They claim on their website that "our clients include a broad network of high-net-worth domestic and international investors, teams and team owners, leagues, sports and media operating companies, lenders and other financing sources."

So what exactly do they do?

Inner Circle Sports offer a range of services, according to their website. they include working as a 'buy-side' and 'sell-side' advisers. They seek out potential investors who may be willing to buy football clubs or just purchase a stake in them. They carry out the due diligence, help with the public relations around a buy or sale, and provide legal services including getting approval from the relevant leagues, in this case the Premier League.

Why has Ellis Short employed them?

Short is understood to be keen to sell Sunderland, and there was interest from a Chinese consortium earlier this year. He has put a price of £170million on the club and after failing to reach that with the Chinese investors, believes Inner Circle Sports' contacts and services can help him get that figure. Inner Circle state on the website: "In addition to our extensive North American network, we have developed relationships with emerging market investors across Asia, India, and the Middle East. Through our sell-side services, we provide our clients access to an international investor base, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome."

Short and Inner Circle have history though, too?

Yes. Inner Circle played a major role in the sale of Sunderland back in 2009. Short bought the club from the Drumaville consortium for £20million, having gained a controlling interest the year before.

What about other clubs they've been involved with?

Too many to mention them all, but from an English perspective the main ones are Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday. They recently helped American duo Josh Harris and David Blitzer invest £100m into Palace, and they represented Tom Hicks and George Gillett in their 2007 Liverpool takeover. They also were engaged by Sheff Wed back in 2009 when the Owls were looking for investment.