Italian football giant AS Roma has been acquired by Texas-based billionaire Daniel Friedkin in a deal worth €591 million, following weeks of negotiations over a purchase price which reflects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sport.
The deal, originally estimated to be worth around €750 million, was reduced to aid with the financial difficulties the coronavirus has caused. The virus has made it difficult to assess the club’s value after losing out on revenue streams such as, broadcasting, sponsorship and gate receipts.
Sale of the club was announced yesterday from current club president, James Pallotta, to CEO of US investment firm The Friedkin Group, owned by Daniel Friedkin.
It’s believed Pallotta rejected a bid in May of €575 million, working with Goldman Sachs bankers to help try and find a new investor. However, the club announced the agreement of €591 million, with the transaction expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Pallotta said in a statement, “Over the past month, Dan and Ryan Friedkin have demonstrated their total commitment to finalising this deal and taking the club forward in a positive way. I am sure they will be great future owners for AS Roma.”
Friedkin, who will acquire 86.6 per cent of the club, says, “All of us are so happy to have taken the steps to become a part of this iconic city and club,”.
“We look forward to the purchase as soon as possible and immersing ourselves in the AS Roma family.”
In recent years, top players and coaches have opted for the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga, causing Serie A to fall behind. An increase in bureaucracy has surrounded Italy making it difficult for the league to compete with other European giants.
But, Friedkin’s takeover signifies that the league can still attract international investors. Crucial for the future of the league. Having said that, it’s fair to say Friedkin has got a challenge ahead of him.
In 2014, Pallotta revealed plans for a 52,500-seater stadium, intended to be finished for the 2016-17 season. The plans faced many obstacles with building yet to begin. However, with key signings like Ronaldo joining the league, there’s hope that Serie A can compete once again with Europe’s elite.
The deal between Pallotta and Friedkin also raises suspicion, as Pallotta has been linked with the takeover of Newcastle United. Selling of the Serie A club may facilitate the takeover following the proposal from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), falling through last week. Pallotta is yet to comment on the reports circulating within the media.
Author: James Parker