US investment group chief Paul Conway has claimed that his Pacific Media Group consortium could break the Rangers and Celtic duopoly in Scotland – if the SFA would let them buy a club.
The American businessman and his group of investors have been very busy in recent years signing the likes of Barnsley in England, AS Nancy in France, KV Oostende in Belgium, Den Bosch in Holland, Esbjerg in Denmark and FC Thun in Switzerland to their bulging portfolio of clubs.
— stephen.mcgowan (@mcgowan_stephen) September 27, 2021
The US investment group Pacific Media Group has a range of interesting parties involved with Conway joining the likes of Chinese billionaire Chien Lee and Billy Beane, the ex-baseball player played by Brad Pitt in movie “Moneyball” in the group [Times].
Despite attempts to add Partick Thistle, Livingston or Dundee to the stable, these collapsed last year when the SFA capped the ceiling for owners of other clubs at 24.9 per cent.
According to Conway, if the rules were relaxed then his Pacific Media Group could build a squad capable of challenging the domination of the Old Firm duopoly north of the border.
This is down to the famous “Moneyball” method and the American businessman cites the club’s KV Oostende example as justification for the outlandish claims.
“If we had a Scottish club we could challenge the duopoly of Celtic and Rangers, 100 per cent,” US investment group chief Conway told the Daily Mail.
“Look at our Belgian example. With the lowest budget in the league at Oostende we finished fifth. We have a team now which is aged 24 to 27, we are competitive again this year – and why is that? It’s because our biggest cash flow source is player trading.
“Think about it and the biggest shopping market in the world is just a few miles south of the border.
“So if you have a bunch of young attacking players, you can buy a medium-sized club and, through the trading profits, you can be competitive.
“The way it is set up now, you have the Old Firm who have control of the league and no strategic investment is going to come in to these other clubs.
“Part of the problem is that the Old Firm, as I understand it, don’t want to encourage inward investment because they have an anti-competitive duopoly.
“You pick Hearts, Hibs or any other middle-sized clubs and they obviously can’t compete because of the difference in the matchday revenue.
“But that can be fixed immediately if they are generating £10m to £15m of transfer profit like Oostende.
“We got into Belgium and in our first year the transfer revenue was two times what we paid for the club the year before.
“We sold Jack Hendry. We also sold Arthur Theate to Bologna in Italy for £6.5m after we got him on a free the year before.
“So, if you bring in some strategic investor to recapitalise a team outside the Old Firm and these teams are generating transfer profits, guess what? The league is going to get a lot more competitive.
“And that will dwarf anything you can do to make commercial improvements to the league. It will also give you a chance of greater TV rights.”
As an independent review of the SPFL is launched by some of the member clubs, there is an ongoing conversation happening about how to bring more money into the Scottish game.
Aberdeen, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs have launched the review with the aim to double revenues in Scotland to over £50m [AFC].
Conway believes Scotland will be left behind if it doesn’t follow the likes of Holland and relax its rules, with the Dutch move enabling Pacific Media Group to buy Den Bosch.
“I will talk to anybody about this. Tell those clubs to give me a call or whatever works,” said Conway.
“I spoke to the American guys at Dundee before. But I’m happy to talk to anyone about ideas for change.
“We looked at probably four opportunities to buy a club in Scotland and eventually gave up. It just doesn’t work for us or anyone like us and we grew so fed up we moved on to four other countries.
“We now have clubs in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland.
“Scottish football is falling behind. And you either get on this bus or the league continues to suffer compared to the other leagues.
“The Dutch league opened up to strategic investors in January and if you are an American investor you are certainly going to go into Holland way before you go into Scotland.”
It’s certainly an interesting take and whatever happens, you get the feeling change is coming soon to Scottish football as the rest of the clubs begin to get frustrated with its leadership.
Rangers’ run-ins with the SPFL in particular are certainly not news and the latest to come out of a dispute with the title sponsor offered a flashback to a one-time billionaire Ibrox investor.