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Barnsley FC majority shareholders acquire Belgian outfit

After prolongated negotiations, American investment group Pacific Media Group (PMG) has become the new owner of struggling Belgian first division side, KV Oostende.

The acquisition becomes the third investment into European football by Pacific Media Group, who also own a majority stake in Barnsley FC and Swiss Super League outfit FC Thun, while they failed to buy Scottish Championship side Partick Thistle last year.

In 2017, former owner and billionaire businessman Marc Coucke left Oostende for Anderlecht and ever since the club has been struggling financially, owing Coucke €6.2 million, labouring under a skewed salary structure, stadium rent, and an operational deficit of €9.6 million in the 2018-2019 season. On the field, Oostende were entangled in a relegation battle before the Belgian league was suspended with one match day remaining on the calendar.

But the new deal marks a lifeline for Oostende.  “This ensures the future of KV Oostende,” wrote the club in a statement.  “We are currently working serenely and hard on our license dossier, which will be submitted to the BAS on Monday, May 4th. After obtaining the license, more extensive communication will take place.”

Pacific Media Group's bid to buy Thistle was thwarted due to guidelines put in place by the Scottish Football Association preventing the ownership of multiple clubs.

Reports last month suggested that Barnley's co-Chairman, Paul Conway, has since made tentative approaches to clubs in the top-flight of the Scottish Premier League - with the Scottish Football Association to compromise over dual ownership to attract investment to stricken Scottish clubs hit by the coronavirus shutdown,

Speaking at the time, Conway said: 'We want to take this opportunity in the current environment to say to clubs in Scotland, we are open for business.'

We are hearing there might be more flexibility with regard to dual ownership, which might be a good thing during this difficult period for clubs.

'We can move fast for the right opportunity in the Scottish League and we are open to creative deals.'

"We would look to bring the same methods we employ with our other clubs such as Barnsley - which is a young team, data-led, balancing a budget sensibly. We would look to run a club as a proper business."