The Australian Professional Leagues (APL), today announced that Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, has made a significant minority investment in the organisation.
The investment will aim to support the APL’s digital first growth strategy by driving technological enhancement and innovation aimed at improving fan engagement and developing football in Australia.
The transaction values the APL at approximately AUD $425m.
The investment, which will come in the form of a measured deployment of capital over the coming years, will be allocated towards improving marketing, product development and strengthening its direct-to-consumer execution, as well as supporting the on-field enhancement of the A-Leagues.
This will include increased investment in all competitions with a specific focus on extended growth in the Liberty A-League Women and A-League Youth competitions. Additional investment is planned to be deployed for development of unique community engagement propositions to further connect the game.
Silver Lake Managing Director Stephen Evans, who has experience of working with both the City Football Group and the UFC, will also join the APL Board.
Commenting on the announcement, Paul Lederer, A-Leagues Chair, said:
“Silver Lake is a world-class leader in technology and media investing and this partnership is a testament to the compelling opportunities for growth and even better, deeper fan engagement that our leagues are cultivating. This valuation recognises the latent potential that has long existed in the professional game in Australia, and the ability of our board and executive team to realise that potential.
“We welcome the opportunity to work closely with Silver Lake to harness the team’s experience, including around new technology adoption and other growth strategies critical to realising the potential of Australian football.”
“The Australian Professional Leagues has a large, growing and passionate fan base across its thirteen teams and the organization has made great strides as it focuses on leveraging technology to strengthen Australian football and enrich the fan experience,” said Stephen Evans, Managing Director at Silver Lake. “We are excited to partner with the Board, Danny Townsend, and the entire executive team to help further accelerate APL’s digital transformation and support its continued momentum and ambitious vision for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth.”
WHO ARE SILVER LAKE?
Silver Lake are a multi-billion dollar private equity firm, with a massive global tech or tech-related investment portfolio.
Fittingly based in the hub of technological innovation, Silicon Valley, Silver Lake’s list of investments read like a who’s who of tech companies (including the likes of AirBnB, Twitter, Klarna, Motorola) and covers everything from finance to Artificial Intelligence.
The A-Leagues do not represent Silver Lake’s first foray in to the world of sports; their investments already list leading licensed sporting merchandise Fanatics (who provide e-commerce and fulfilment for the likes of the NFL, MLB, NBA and more), Madison Square Garden Sports Corporation, the holding company of the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers, and the City Football Group among their ranks.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE A-LEAGUES?
“The A-Leagues private equity deal has the potential to be a real game changer for the economics of our professional game.” Said Michael Turner, Kick360‘s Head of Operations.
“In layman’s terms, the A-Leagues now have a partner looking to grow all of our professional leagues, Men’s, Women’s and Youth. The league has already embarked on a growth plan, with a corporate strategy clearly in place, and a robust hiring policy with experience staff filling key roles.
“Silver Lake allows the league to fund its strategic objectives, to grow and expand the league, create new innovative technology and solutions to promote, and develop the product on and off the field.
“A focus on the Youth and Women’s competition is welcome news for all fans, potentially hinting at an expanded full season for both, as well as growth in the player development opportunities in both competitions.”