On the UK’s most respected fund managers Nick Train has revealed that he is reconsidering investments in Manchester United and a number of other football clubs following the breakaway European Super League fiasco.
Nick Train, the co-founder of Lindsell Train, the highly reputable asset manager with over £23.2bn of assets under management revealed concern that the European Super League announcement may have caused reputational damage and thus undermines the investment case for investing in football club shares which are reliant on connections with fans.
Both the Lindsell Train UK Equity Fund and Lindsell Train Global Equity Fund have investments in Manchester United, Juventus and Celtic Football club. And while Celtic was not involved in discussions to join the European Super League, Train was concerned about the general direction of travel for football clubs and the intentions of their owners.
And while fans protested, Train sought to do a protest of his own – requesting meetings with all three clubs in which he expressed his disappointment and fear for the reputational damage they have caused themselves:
“At these meetings we expressed our disappointment about the reputational damage Juventus and Manchester United have inflicted on themselves. We asked for clarity about their position regarding the ESL going forward. Most importantly, we urged them to return to respectful negotiations with all members of the football community to work toward mutually beneficial ends.
We continue to monitor events closely as they unfold, while considering their implications for our investment case.”Nick Train – Monthly Report for May
While Train and fund managers engage with senior executives to discuss financial results, this meeting is believed to have been requested specifically to gain reassurance over future conduct by the clubs and their owners.
Now the football fans get some support from those with big financial clout
The revelation from Nick Train will be welcomed by football supporters around the world and serve as a timely reminder to football club owners that keeping fans on side are central to financial success.
Train’s investment case for football club investments is that iconic football clubs should grow in global appeal and connecting with fans is a key part of that – on the pitch and in particularly through digital media.
Discussions around a European Super League appear to test that investment case to the limit.
As revealed, Train will continue to keep tabs on the situation, and should football clubs fail to keep fans onside then it seems inevitable that he alongside other investors and fans will have no reservations about walking out of the gates for good.