This is why American investors have previously targeted Sunderland and Newcastle United as Burnley takeover details revealed

English clubs - including Sunderland - have been targeted by American investors in recent years and Michael Dell’s involvement in the Burnley takeover has now been revealed.

Friday, 8th January 2021, 2:53 pm

Sunderland have been one of the beneficiaries of the new-found American interest in the English game, agreeing a $12million loan with FPP Sunderland – a group of individuals with links to tech tycoon Michael Dell – in November 2019.

A similar, albeit different, group have also invested in Southampton and Derby County, while technological giants Silver Lake last year bought a fraction of the Manchester City’s ownership company the City Football Group for $500million.

And Burnley have now been taken over by an American group, ALK Capital completed a Turf Moor takeover on New Year's Eve.

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Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

And new Burnley chairman Alan Pace has been speaking about the deal.

It is reported in the local press that ALK have so far paid £102million towards the Burnley takeover, with around £60million raised through a loan provided by Michael Dell's MSD UK Holdings.

ALK have a further three payments to make and should they fail to make them the American owners have agreed to hand the club back to its previous shareholders.

Pace told the Burnley Express: "I would tell you that the way we have done this, I am absolutely positively certain has never been done in the same way before.

"It has everything to do with making that fanbase comfortable that this is the most sustainable form of what we could have done. Bar none.

"I think people will realise that over time.

"We can't speak about it for a whole bunch of reasons, but if I was in front of a number of fans at any given time I could put my hand on my heart, look them in the eye and say 'you should be proud of the way that this club has done what it has done. And you should be happy with knowing where it can go and will go with the structures that have been put in place.'"

Sunderland are of course set to be taken over by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, his takeover remains on track to be completed this month and it is not yet clear what that means for the FPP Sunderland loan.

The 23-year-old Swiss has agreed a deal with Stewart Donald to purchase a majority shareholding in the club, the exact details of which are yet to be confirmed.

And with the pair having agreed terms, the only hurdle left is the EFL's owners and directors test.

MSD UK Holdings are a newly-established investment group set-up to manage the wealth of billionaire technology tycoon Michael Dell, who two years was mentioned as a potential ‘passive, minority investor’ in a deal to buy Sunderland.

Robert Platek – a director of MSD UK Holdings and an associate of Dell – was heavily involved in those takeover and investment talks with Sunderland AFC two years ago, which resulted in a £9million loan being given to Stewart Donald’s holding company, Madrox Partners, by a group called FPP Sunderland.

But why have these American investors been targeting clubs such as Sunderland and previously at Newcastle United, and what could it mean for the future of English football?

We spoke to Kieran Maguire of the University of Liverpool last year to gain the inside track on the latest investment trend:

“At present, investors see football as an industry where you can pick up things on the cheap – and they’re looking beyond COVID-19,” explained Maguire.

“We are now looking at football as not being you and me, turning up at the Stadium of Light with a pie and a pint shouting things for 90 minutes. We're now seeing football as a product to cash in on.

“That was very evident when the tech company Silver Lake invested in Manchester City. These tech companies are looking to turn all the data that we have on fans into cash.

“Michael Dell is clearly in the tech sides of things, so it’s no surprise that organisations linked to him are getting involved in football – because we’re going to consume it in a different way.

“There’s an audience out there who are football mad and whether it’s through streaming, through augmented reality, or embedding cameras into Lionel Messi’s shirt so you can watch the match through him, these are huge opportunities and show where football is going.”

He added: “I think American tech companies have realised that football is the biggest showing pound in terms of attracting a global audience.

“It’s a bit like things such as driverless cars, you want to be at the front of the queue when that technology is converting.

“These companies have realised that American sports companies have a limited audience, and while that’s very lucrative, they’re looking four or five years down the line. Football is the most attractive sport, and they want the opportunity to participate in that.”

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