Record financial loss at Melbourne Victory as US ownership threatens

The pitch invasion came after fans expressed strong opposition to the move by the Australian Professional Leagues – which now run the A-League – to sell the next three major finals to Sydney. Previously, the first-placed team hosted the final.

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Original Style Melbourne – the Victory supporters group that organized a fan walk-out at the City game that later turned violent – described the APL as having voted “corporate greed over the needs of football” in the run-up to that game.

In October, Victory announced a deal with 777 Partners that gave the company a minority stake in exchange for up to $10 million. While that was true — the initial investment was $8.7 million for a 19.9 percent stake — there was more to the deal than that.

The private equity investor has been given an option to own up to 70 percent of the club over five years through an investment of up to $30 million, the documents show. After four or five years, 777 Partners also had the right to leave Victory and repay the $30 million at an interest rate of 10 percent per annum.

The deal would also put him in a position of preference over existing shareholders if Victory went into liquidation.

When the deal was announced, Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro described it as a “strategic investment” that would “charge its growth strategy.”

Melbourne Victory, pictured celebrating winning the 2015 A-League Grand Final, has been one of the most successful clubs in the A-League.

Melbourne Victory, pictured celebrating winning the 2015 A-League Grand Final, has been one of the most successful clubs in the A-League.Credit:Getty

While the pandemic has had a significant impact on Victory’s finances, the club has lost money since 2018-19, with total losses of $13.2 million over the period.

Ahead of 777 Partners’ investment, Victory’s auditor, Moore Australia, said the state of the club’s finances “points to a material uncertainty which could cast doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a business”.

Victory’s main shareholder, Mario Biasin, the co-founder of major construction company Metricon, died in May. Metricon was a key Victory sponsor while Biasin owned 26 percent of the club.

Miami-based 777 Partners is a major investor in world soccer with stakes in Spanish LaLiga club Sevilla, Italian Serie B team Genoa and Brazilian club Vasco De Gama. It recently reached an agreement to make a significant investment in German Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

Mario Biasin (left) and Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro (right) in 2015 with the club's former goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.

Mario Biasin (left) and Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro (right) in 2015 with the club’s former goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.Credit:Melbourne Victory Twitter

It invests in insurance, finance, media and entertainment, and aviation. The investor also supports the new Australian low-cost airline Bonza. This airline will replace Metricon as the main sponsor of Victory and their logo will appear on the front of the club’s jersey.

The 777 Partners deal, if approved by Victory shareholders, will dramatically dilute interest in the club from existing major shareholders, including Di Pietro and businessmen Joe Mirabella and Sam Cuteri.

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According to documents filed with the Australian Securities & Investment Commission, they intend to vote in favor of 777 Partners’ investment. An expert report by RSM recommended that the transaction should be approved by shareholders.

Private investment is playing a growing role in Australian football, with private equity firm Silver Lake now the largest shareholder in the A-League. Victory is also involved in the A-League along with the other 11 teams in the competition.

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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/record-financial-loss-at-melbourne-victory-as-us-ownership-looms-20221231-p5c9kr.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Record financial loss at Melbourne Victory as US ownership threatens

Ryan Sederquist

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