Investors purchasing stakes in multiple soccer teams has essentially skyrocketed in recent years.

In fact, a 2023 report by UEFA, the governing body of the sport in Europe, revealed that more than 180 clubs across the globe were part of a multi-club ownership.

To put this boom into perspective, there were less than 40 teams in such a structure a decade ago.

The overall appeal of multi-club ownership varies depending on opinions and each team’s situation. Some investors could target multiple clubs in order to position themselves in different global markets.

Holding ownership in teams on different continents may give these investors easier access to young prospects. Others, however, can point to a minimized financial risk of owning multiple clubs.

Another benefit of multi-club ownership is having one main club and then several smaller teams. This is the current setup for Manchester City‘s Abu Dhabi United Group. Along with the Premier League giants, the company also holds stake in several other teams across the world.

Nevertheless, City is the clear focal point of the investors. The group can buy players and use these smaller clubs as feeders for the English top-flight side.

777 Partners targeted by supporter groups of their own clubs

While investors can see an obvious benefit to the multi-club structure, fans generally disapprove of the move. Supporters, especially in the smaller clubs, feel as if ownership may not have full focus on their beloved team.

Another particular set of investors that have been under fire lately is 777 Partners. The group has been attempting to takeover Everton ever since last fall. However, the move has stalled for months, leaving the Toffees in limbo.

Along with their Everton endeavors, 777 Partners currently owns Genoa, Standard Liège, Red Star FC, Vasco da Gama, and Hertha Berlin. The Americans own minority stakes in Sevilla and Melbourne Victory as well. Despite their investments, many of these clubs have experienced hardship since 777 came aboard.

Due to the difficulties, supporter groups of these teams are joining forces against the American group. Fans of the aforementioned clubs, bar Genoa, have issued a joint statement demanding that 777 Partners leave their teams.

Fans have written a joint statement demanding 777 Partners leave their teams.
Fans have written a joint statement demanding 777 Partners leave their teams.

Fans have written a joint statement demanding 777 Partners leave their teams.

“Now more than ever club multi-ownership has been conducive to the takeover of football by nefarious entities like 777 Partners, this scourge must be fought by fans the world over,” read the joint statement.

“From Germany to Australia, from Belgium to Brazil, from Spain to France, and all over: 777 Out!”

Another American investor may soon be banned from the sport

777 Partners, however, are not the only group of multi-club investors to be targeted.

Officials are currently trying to determine if former Barnsley co-chairman Paul Conway should be allowed to even have ties to the sport. Conway is part of a multi-club investment group that owns several European clubs, including Belgian side Oostende.

With Conway at the helm, Oostende endured relegation from the Belgian top flight last season. The team was then hit with multiple points deductions as well. As a result, the 120-year-old club has essentially collapsed. Oostende was even declared bankrupt after ownership collected a debt of nearly $11 million.

According to authorities involved in the issue, Conway has been accused of “complete mismanagement and financial malpractice.” The administrator also accused the American of “playing with clubs as if they are nothing.”

One of the main concerns regarding Conway revolves around the signing of Mickael Biron in 2021. Oostende purchased the forward for a club-record fee of about $5.5 million. Biron, however, never actually played for the Belgian team and was subsequently sold for half of this fee just a year later.

Photo credit: IMAGO / PA Images.