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Former Walt Disney chairman and CEO Michael Eisner’s Tornante Co. has closed the acquisition of English soccer club Portsmouth FC, nicknamed Pompey.
A price tag wasn’t mentioned Thursday when the deal was unveiled, but the BBC previously reported that Eisner, 75, had offered 5.67 million pounds ($7.37 million at the time and $7.45 million on Thursday).
Since 2005 he has been running The Tornante Co., which invests in and acquires media and entertainment companies and has financed such projects as animated Netflix series BoJack Horseman.
Portsmouth this year won promotion to England’s League One, two levels below the top league known as the English Premier League.
Tornante, together with Madison Dearborn Partners, owns trading card company Topps, which has licensing deals with U.S. sports leagues and the English Premier League. Eisner has said that he became a fan of English soccer after watching a game of London club Arsenal.
Eisner becomes the latest international businessman to buy into an English soccer club. Most acquisitions have focused on clubs in the Premier League. For example, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke owns a majority stake in Arsenal, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry owns Liverpool FC, and the Glazer family owns Manchester United.
Eisner and his three sons, Breck, Eric and Anders, will make up the board of the club along with Andy Redman, president of Tornante, and Mark Catlin, Portsmouth FC’s CEO.
Eisner’s family will join the management of the club at home stadium Fratton Park to watch the team’s first match under the new ownership on the opening day of the League One season this Saturday when Portsmouth welcomes Rochdale.
“My family and I are thrilled to take on this incredible responsibility as stewards of a football club with such a rich heritage,” Eisner said. “We have come to know the Pompey community in recent months, and we are extremely impressed by their passion, dedication and love for their club.”
The Eisner family also thanked the Pompey Supporters’ Trust and all fans. “The football club wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the against-the-odds commitment of Pompey supporters who came together and saved this club. This is and will always be your team,” said Eric Eisner.
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