I love football. And I love clever, secure, creative, impactful investment. The fact that most of what we find, and I personally invest in, has a meaningful and measurable impact on those who need a hand-up, and not a hand-out, is a constant source of joy to me.
Having followed football and my English team for more than 45 years I have been saddened to see the adverse effect that money has had on football – and the detrimental effect that money has had on the beautiful game at the lower levels and in leagues outside of Europe. But it is the huge amount of money that now washes through football that is offering me the chance to help to create soccer academies in East Africa – allowing young and talented African footballers to transform their lives and the lives of their families and communities; and investors to make very good returns from an investment that will directly improve the chances of major success for gifted African youth footballers.
The global football sports market was estimated at around US$28billion in 2015, equal to as much as the combined revenue from all US team sports, Formula1 racing, tennis and golf combined. The sport of football is watched and played by billions of people around the world – far more than any other sport. It is the world’s game but its revenues are not shared equally around the globe.
As with many other areas of the world economy Africa loses out in footballing terms. Black African footballers have a much smaller piece of the action than they should have and could have on the world stage. Whilst players of African origin are disproportionately represented in European leagues because of their exceptional athleticism, players born in Africa itself are actually very under-represented at the highest level.
In Uganda the government usually pays plane tickets to international tournaments as the aircraft is on the runway. Performance bonuses are always paid late or not at all. The coaching is not at an international standard, facilities are poor, diet is bad, the national associations are defective, and there is little or no personal development or mentoring. It is therefore no surprise that the average kid on the East African streets has little chance of emulating Paul Pogba – born in Paris to Guinean parents.
We want to change that. And we know how to do so within a viable operational model.
SEARCH – We look for talent where others don’t, can’t or won’t.
FIND – We inevitably find some amazingly gifted and talented footballers and we develop a bond with them.
SIGN – We work hard to sign these players to one of our clubs which entails getting to know players, their families and their influencers. We build trust between them and us.
DEVELOP – After signing the real work begins and we take these young men and help build and develop them physically, emotionally and strategically.
PLACE – We are very strategic about where a player will land next. We think several steps and years ahead whilst making sure that the first placement has a high likelihood of success.
MANAGE – Even at a new club a player is always a part of our family and we continue the mentoring relationship.
OPTIMIZE – As a player’s career develops we make sure we are always on the lookout for the next best step.
Our system is a well-oiled machine of talent discovery, development, placement and cash flow/value creation
It’s a simple and proven strategy. Build a no-frills school/academy that offers specialist football coaching from some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Offer 21st century sports science, strict discipline, absolute focus, the highest leadership ethics and exceptional mentoring and support. Audition across the country to find the best natural talent and then enrol them in the academy. Develop the talent, place the very best at our sister clubs in Europe and the US, and then work hard on behalf of the athlete to agree to a permanent contract and to help to manage and maximise the footballer’s career path.
Here’s the thing that sold it to me – the business model is proven in West Africa where our partner has already placed 24 young, gifted players from their academy on professional contracts with professional football teams. Every one of those 24 players has had their lives, and those of their families and communities, changed forever by being given an opportunity that evades great players in Africa because of a lack of contacts, concentration and coaching.
Those 24 players have also proved the investment model. The East African academies and their backers will receive fees every time a player is placed and/or transferred. In the case of the West African academy this has more than doubled investor money in five years and will do so again over the next three years. None of the fees collected by the academies are at the player’s cost.
We already have the land that we require to build the academy in Uganda – eight hectares within 80km of Kampala. We have a sponsorship pledge from a worldwide sports brand and a coaching commitment from the academy of a world famous European football club.
In every country where we build we will raise $1m from investors who will be 50% shareholders in their country’s Academy which will be a joint venture with the international business that owns all the relationships with the professional clubs in Europe, US and China, a football club in Europe, and has the expertise to make the venture work and work quickly. The $1m will build and run the academy and meet all the associated costs for a five year period during which time we know from experience that we can find, perfect, and place at least 10 future footballing stars in every nation where we operate.
As an investor you will have the chance to quadruple money over an eight year period, build your country’s footballing footprint, be involved in the life of the academy, and help to make dreams come true. If this appeals to you and you can invest $50k or more then get in contact and I will tell you more. I can’t think of many investments that have excited me this much!
Jon Pedley is Chief Operating Officer, Investment Owl. For more information on this or anything financial
contact [email protected]