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American company invests in Genoa FC Image: BRFootball (Twitter)

777 Partners, a Miami-based alternative investment firm, acquired full ownership of Genoa Cricket and Football Club, Italy’s oldest professional football team, on September 23rd. Genoa C.F.C. (‘Genoa’), which plays in Italy’s prestigious Serie A.

The ‘777 Partners’ stated that the new ownership group will purchase 99.9 percent of the share capital in Genoa, inject fresh capital into the club and will assume certain related liabilities. 777 Partners will use its expertise in the sports, media and entertainment industries to help further commercialize the operations of the club. The club’s previous owner, Enrico Preziosi, will remain on the club’s Board of Directors, while CEO Alessandro Zarbano will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the club.

Genoa C.F.C. is a professional football club based in Genoa, Liguria, Italy, that competes in Serie A (top of the Italian football league system). Established on September 7th 1893, it is Italy’s oldest football team, and the oldest Italian football team still active to this day, with over 125 years of history. During their long history, Genoa has won the Italian Championship nine times. Genoa’s first title came at the inaugural championship in 1898. Historically, Genoa is the fourth most successful Italian club in terms of championships won.

The 36,599-capacity Luigi Ferraris Stadium, also known as the Marassi from the name of the neighborhood where it is located, is a multiuse stadium in Genoa, Italy. It is the home of Genoa C.F.C.

The 777 Partners is a Miami (US)-based alternative investment firm that invests across a number of high growth attractive verticals. Founded in 2015, 777 Partners strategically invests across six broad industries: Insurance, consumer and commercial finance, litigation finance, direct lending, sports, media and entertainment, and aviation.

The ‘777 Partners’ quoted Josh Wander, Founder and Managing Partner of 777 Partners, as stating, “We are profoundly humbled to be a small part of the rich history, heritage and tradition of Genoa. We understand and respect the responsibility we are inheriting to preserve and protect the proud legacy of the ‘Rossoblù’, and we are committed as custodians of that legacy to help the club reclaim its place at the top of Serie A.”

Asserted Preziosi, “The time has come to pass the torch. I have always said that I would leave Genoa only to a strong and reliable new owner, and I leave it in the hands of 777 Partners. To them, who will now lead the oldest club in Italy, I wish the best. I will always remain a ‘Rossoblù’ fan.”

777 Partners has quickly built a world-class portfolio in the sports industry, focusing on undervalued businesses with deep connections to their fan bases and emerging businesses in fast growing and underserved markets. In addition to Genoa, 777 Partners also owns a significant stake in Sevilla FC, one of Spain’s most prestigious and successful football clubs, as well as the London Lions, London’s only team in the British Basketball League team. The firm’s sports, media and entertainment portfolio also includes Fanatiz, a streaming service distributing live sports for European and Hispanic audiences in 90+ countries around the world, 1190 Sports, which provides top-class management and commercialization of sports rights, Atalanta Media, the first-ever dedicated distribution, engagement and community platform for women’s football, and Uplay, a Canadian community service, academics and basketball platform.

The investment was led by Josh Wander and Steve Pasko, the founders of 777 Partners, as well as Juan Arciniegas, the Managing Director who oversees the firm’s sports, media and entertainment investments, and Andres Blazquez, the operating partner who helps manage the firm’s football investments.
 

American ownership

The ‘Reuters’ stated that Italy’s oldest soccer team Genoa became the sixth Serie A side to come under American ownership.

The private investment firm is the latest US owner in Italy’s top league following the acquisitions of A.C. Milan, ACF Fiorentina, Spezia Calcio, A.S. Roma, and Venezia FC.

The ‘Reuters’ further stated that eight of the 20 top-flight Italian clubs now have foreign owners, including China’s Suning Group at Inter Milan and Canadian Joey Saputo at Bologna F.C.

Foreign investors see an opportunity to grow revenues by bringing their management expertise into the world’s most popular sport, especially at a time when many clubs are struggling due to the devastating effects of COVID-19 and need an injection of funds.

777 Partners “assume certain related liabilities”, said a joint statement, without giving any financial details of the deal.

A source close to the matter said the deal values the club at 150 million euros ($175.80 million), including debt.

Like other Serie A teams, Genoa, which ended 2020 with a 33 million euros loss, has been hit hard by the impact of coronavirus, which put many clubs’ finances under stress and left them looking for fresh resources.

Preziosi, head of Italian toy manufacturer Giochi Preziosi, took over in 2003 when the nine-time Italian champions were in Serie B. Genoa were promoted four years later and have stayed in Serie A ever since.

However, the entrepreneur had been trying to sell the club for several years amid poor results which sparked protests by the fans.

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