Walsall taken over – another American investor in English football – GAME OF THE PEOPLE
The WALSALL FOOTBALL CLUB was surprisingly taken over by American investment firm Trivela Group LLC of Birmingham, Alabama. The company has acquired 51% of the club’s shares from Leigh Pomlett, who has decided to end his three-year tenure as owner. Pomlett succeeded Jeff Bonser and is a longtime Walsall supporter. Just days earlier, Pomlett had told local media that he was still proud to be chairman and that the club was “league one and above”. He now believes Trivela is the ‘right group with the right vision to help drive the club forward’. The amount of money involved was not disclosed.
Not much is known about Trivela, although it is common knowledge that they were formed in 2021 with the mission to ‘create sustainable value through the acquisition and management of association football clubs‘ . Their team includes Benjamin Boycott, Kenneth Polk and Vice President of World Football Matt Jordan. Polk is CEO of Arlington Family Offices, a company that manages some $12 billion in capital for wealthy families.
Walsall appear to be their first investment but reports suggest this is the start of building a multi-club model. Their arrival is another example of US investors taking over EFL and Premier clubs. American owners are quickly becoming the most influential segment of English football.
Trivela has apparently pumped money into the club for a strategic investment. It remains to be seen whether they will adopt the date-based approach that seems to characterize many American football club owners.
Walsall has spent the last three seasons in Ligue 2, finishing 16e in 2021-22. Despite a lackluster period, the club’s home attendance numbers were over 5,000, an improvement from 2019-20 and 2018-19. The club have been cautious compared to many of their rivals, and while that means they have emerged relatively unscathed from the pandemic, fans have accused the current regime of lacking ambition.
Nonetheless, Walsall has posted a profit for 16 consecutive seasons, including a pre-tax profit of £13,000 in 2020-21 and £25,000 in 2019-20. Their turnover was a modest £4.2m, compared to £5.6m in 2019-20 and £6.7m in 2018-19, an understandable development given the impact of the doorstep revenue pandemic. Walsall’s wage bill was £3.1million, more than 10% lower than the previous season, but 74% of revenue compared to 62% in 2019-20.
With the arrival of Trivela, Walsall fans are hoping for new momentum and more resources to build a better team on the pitch. The first phase of the transaction involves taking a 51% stake in the club, followed by a second phase in which an additional 25% will be acquired. A significant part of the Trivela takeover will be the purchase of full ownership of Bescot Stadium from former owner Bonser.
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View all posts by Neil Fredrik Jensen