Tech entrepreneur Victoire Cogevina Reynal plans to start buying controlling stakes in women’s football clubs, people with knowledge of the matter said, in what would be one of the first dedicated examples of multiclub ownership outside the men’s game.
(Bloomberg) — Tech entrepreneur Victoire Cogevina Reynal plans to start buying controlling stakes in women’s football clubs, people with knowledge of the matter said, in what would be one of the first dedicated examples of multiclub ownership outside the men’s game.
Her new company Mercury 13, named after a group of female pilots who weren’t allowed to join NASA’s astronaut program because of their gender, is raising an initial $100 million for its first deals, according to the people. Mercury 13 is targeting professional women’s teams in Europe and Latin America, some of which are owned and managed by their corresponding men’s organizations, one of the people said.
It’s close to announcing an acquisition in England and is in advanced negotiations for potential deals in Spain and Italy, the person said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Cogevina Reynal and a representative for Mercury 13 declined to comment.
So-called multiclub ownership is now commonplace in men’s football following a wave of deals by mostly US-based investors, including John Textor at Eagle Football Holdings and Josh Wander at 777 Partners. The model is favored as a way to achieve cost synergies, share talented players and strike more lucrative sponsorship deals across a stable of teams.
Cogevina Reynal is launching Mercury 13 at a time when interest, and money, in the women’s game is growing. The teams in the Barclays Women’s Super League in England saw revenue rise 60% in the 2021/2022 season to £32 million ($41 million), according to figures from Deloitte. To be sure, that is still just a fraction of the £5.8 billion that Deloitte projects for the men’s English Premier League this season.
The current FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, is breaking attendance records. England and Spain will contest the final in Sydney on Sunday.
Read More: One Owner, Multiple Teams: Why This Trend Is Roiling World Football
Separately-run women’s teams are more common in the US, home to the likes of Angel City FC and Washington Spirit. Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, is reportedly pursuing a $35 million-plus takeover of National Women’s Soccer League club Chicago Red Stars.
Mercury 13 won’t be investing in US-based teams because they are too expensive and because it sees more growth potential in the women’s game in Europe, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mercury 13, which is backed by investors including European family offices and former professional female and male footballers, is studying other potential targets in countries including Argentina, Uruguay and Greece, the person said.
Multiclub ownership in football is not without its critics. Those against the model say it stifles competition and creates feeder teams with no real prospect of success.
Cogevina Reynal previously launched Gloria, a football app that was sold to media platform OneFootball last year. Prior to Gloria, she co-founded football agency SR All Stars.
–With assistance from Carolina Millan.
(Adds details on Mercury 13, multiclub model from first paragraph.)
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