Image credit: Anthony Devlin
December saw US sports investment firm, ALK Capital, complete its takeover of Burnley Football Club, with Alan Pace serving as its new chairman and majority shareholder. So, what impact will the club’s new owners have on the town’s business landscape? We believe the deal is a positive step for Burnley and its businesses – read on to find out why.
What is ALK Capital? And who is Alan Pace?
Firstly, let’s quickly delve into what ALK Capital is, what we know about Alan Pace and how the two became involved with the Clarets.
ALK Capital is a New York investment group specialising in sport and media interests. The organisation has purchased an 84% share in Burnley FC through its sports investment arm, Velocity Sports Partners.
Alan Pace brings to the Turf ten years’ experience in sports management and two decades’ in financial services.
As CEO of the Real Salt Lake Major Soccer League team from 2006 to 2008, Pace drove the flailing side from the bottom of the table to become champions of the 2009 MLS Cup in just two seasons.
Now, Pace – who has dual British and American citizenship – takes up the role of chairman at BFC, replacing Mike Garlick, who will stay on as a director.
The investment in Burnley FC forms part of a broader plan for ALK Capital to embed itself in the European sports scene, with further investments in two London sports technology firms.
What are the benefits of new investment in our local club?
While club takeovers can be met with apprehension from some supporters, there are many reasons to celebrate it as a progressive move for the future of the side. Here are just a handful of the potential benefits of the ALK Capital/Burnley FC takeover.
A boost in performance
Investment in BFC will hopefully help the club maintain its place in the Premier League, and potentially boost its performance through the current season and beyond.
Staying in the Premier League is undoubtedly an economic driver for Burnley, offering a wealth of opportunity to the town as a whole through jobs, media attention and tourism.
With a Premier League club keeping Burnley in the headlines, businesses can profit from the heightened interest in the town as a whole. Plus, investment goes beyond new signings and can impact the club’s infrastructure, facilities, capacity, academies and services, impacting sponsors, other local businesses and surrounding areas.
With a Wall Street background and ongoing involvement in football data businesses, Alan Pace plans to use his analytical expertise to support Burnley’s recruitment strategy, making the transfer process more successful.
Speaking to Sport Business website last summer, he said: “At a time when football clubs must get every penny out of their investments, technology can leverage their spending power, help to drive efficiencies and increase ROI.”
This data-driven, fiscally-minded approach to managing a football club is sure to be good for business.
In an interview with the Lancashire Telegraph, Pace said: “Short term we need to stay in the Premier League and do a really good job in this window.
“Long term we want to be Britain’s favourite underdog.”
Another benefit of the deal could be Pace’s appetite to take a proactive role in steering the club, rather than playing a passive role as a silent partner.
In the same interview, Pace said he intends to spend 80% of his time in Burnley:
“I will be hands-on. I have already experienced a few things early on that need to change, and you don’t do that unless you are living in it every day. If you come and visit once in a while, you think everything is great, and you just leave it to other folks. That is not our style or my style.”
Social media buzz
With an active Twitter profile, a blue tick and over 7,300 engaged followers and counting, Alan Pace is sure to create a social media buzz about Burnley.
His Twitter bio begins “investing in football’s future”, and his handle now reads @AlanPaceBFC, sending out clear signals about his allegiance and intentions for the club.
Already, Pace is following several local, regional and national figures on Twitter, and early signs indicate that he’s keen to engage with Burnley businesses on the platform.
Tweeting about the club’s first game under his ownership on 26 January, he delighted fans by referencing local legend Jordan North’s now-infamous “happy place” quote. In a tweet that had clocked up over a thousand reactions in the first few hours, Pace is making firm strides in his new role as a prominent social media ambassador for the club.
Positive effects on the town
New investment into a football club can inject fresh energy into the community as a whole.
Given the current lockdown circumstances, excitement over a return to the Turf – coupled with curiosity over the new ownership – is bound to spark high attendance numbers from home and away fans when the gates reopen.
Higher attendance levels at games isn’t just good news for the club. In fact, it drives footfall into local businesses, ensures a better ROI for sponsors and unites the community in feeling proud to belong to Burnley. In turn, the latter creates a widespread feelgood factor that encourages individuals to invest back into their local economy, rather than venturing further afield to shop for products and services.
Raising Burnley’s profile
When a major international investor commits to a football club, it sends out a clear message to the wider world about the club’s value and potential through the firm’s vision.
What’s more, from an SEO perspective, an increase in worldwide searches for keywords relating to Burnley can work in local businesses’ favour, boosting their rankings, raising their online profile and driving traffic to well-optimised websites.
By taking the club seriously, ALK Capital is putting Burnley on the map and signifying the potential to be found within the club – and town.
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