Spain’s La Liga has agreed a €2.7bn (£2.3bn) deal with CVC that could see private equity involved in the running of a large European football league for the first time.
La Liga, which manages the top two divisions of Spanish football, said on Wednesday it will create a new business that will take control of most of its activities, in which CVC Capital Partners will hold a 10% stake. The deal will value La Liga at €24.3bn, it said.
Clubs will receive about 90% of the funds from CVC’s investment, including money for women’s football.
The deal comes only three months after 12 of the largest European clubs – including Spain’s Atlético Madrid, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid – attempted to form a breakaway competition, the European Super League, that would have given them lucrative cash injections. It quickly collapsed after a huge backlash from fans, players and even governments.
Sports clubs around the world have struggled for revenues in the last 18 months, with fans largely shut out of stadiums and competitions disrupted. On the other hand, private equity firms around the world are flush with money as investors such as pension funds try to make higher returns.
CVC already has extensive interests in sport, including a deal that it reached in March to invest £365m in rugby’s annual Six Nations tournament between the top European nations. It has also been involved in volleyball, tennis, Moto GP and Formula One.
CVC is officially headquartered in Luxembourg, although it has major offices in London, as well as another 22 locations in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
La Liga said it will be a “long-term deal which aligns the interests of La Liga, the clubs, and CVC”. La Liga will maintain control over sporting issues as well as management of the sale of television rights, it said in a statement. The deal will focus on growing the league’s digital presence, including direct interaction with fans, investing in its brand, and reaching more audiences around the world.
However, the plan may face opposition from some of the league’s most influential members. Real Madrid, La Liga’s most successful team, is opposed to the deal, which will be voted on by the 42 teams in the top two divisions, the Financial Times reported.
The deal received the unanimous backing of La Liga’s “delegated commission”, a body that includes representatives from seven top-division clubs, but which has no representatives from Real Madrid or Barcelona, the two most powerful clubs.