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Business News

Ex-Premier League chief Scudamore joins buyout firm CVC’s team


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Richard Scudamore, the former Premier League chief, has joined forces with one of the world’s leading private equity investors in elite sport as pandemic-induced pressure grows on the finances of team-owners and governing bodies around the world.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Scudamore has begun working with CVC Capital Partners, the former owner of Formula One motor racing and the new financial backer of rugby union’s Six Nations Championship.

City sources said that Mr Scudamore signed a contract with CVC earlier this year to start work as a senior adviser.

His appointment has not been announced publicly, although it was confirmed on Tuesday by insiders.

Ireland and England players compete in the scrum during the recent Six Nations game in Dublin. Pic: AP
Image: Ireland and England players compete during the Six Nations game in Dublin in March. Pic: AP

Mr Scudamore’s new role adds him to a team at CVC that includes Simon Denyer, the founder and former boss of DAZN, the sports streaming service.

It comes amid a glut of deals involving some of the world’s most lucrative and prominent sports franchises, with the likes of Six Nations Rugby, Italy’s Serie A, the New Zealand All Blacks and the McLaren F1 team all targeting injections of new capital to support them through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.

Private equity firms have identified the pandemic as an opportunity to deploy capital into enduring sporting brands at potentially attractive valuations, while utilising their expertise in areas such as media and broadcast rights.

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Mr Scudamore signed a three-year non-compete deal with the Premier League when he stepped down as its executive chairman in late 2018, preventing him from working with any rival competition or bidder for its media rights until the end of this year.

His role at CVC, which has spent more than £500m on top-flight domestic and international rugby union rights in the last two years, is understood to be global in scope and is intended to span the sporting landscape.

CVC, the Luxembourg-based private equity firm, made billions of pounds in profit from a decade-long investment in F1, having also previously owned the MotoGP series.

It has since turned its attention to off-track sports with major investments in a string of rugby assets, and a $300m partnership – announced in February – with the International Volleyball Federation.

The investment firm has also been vying for a deal to buy a stake in a new company that would own the commercial rights to Italy’s Serie A football league – the equivalent of the English Premier League.

That deal has stalled in recent months because of political in-fighting within Serie A, part of which has involved Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus president.

Mr Agnelli was among the principal architects of the European Super League project which all-but collapsed in spectacular fashion last month within hours of the announcement of its launch.

The six English clubs which had signed up to the breakaway from UEFA – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – are now facing an inquiry by the Football Association as well as a substantial hole in their finances.

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Football club owners apologise for ESL

Mr Scudamore criticised the six clubs’ owners, accusing them of “altering the dynamic [of English football] forever.

“I cannot explain why any of them thought it was a good idea,” he reportedly said last month.

“I am the person who had been telling them for years it was a crazy idea and could not happen.”

Since leaving the Premier League, where he was the lynchpin behind a stunning increase in the competition’s domestic and overseas media rights, Mr Scudamore has joined the European golf tour’s Ryder Cup Committee.

He also became an advisor to the top flight of Australian soccer, and to Major League Baseball on its commercial strategy, although those roles are understood to have since come to an end.

Last autumn, he joined the board of RedBall Acquisition Corp, a new ‘blank-cheque’ company set up to acquire an asset in the sports, media or entertainment industries.

RedBall pursued a merger that would have seen Fenway Sports Group, the owner of Premier League champions Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox, become a New York-listed company.

Those talks broke down, but RedBird Capital Partners, RedBall’s sponsor, instead agreed to buy a $735m stake in FSG privately.

CVC declined to comment on Tuesday.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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