Football IPO a good move
Cavalier FC defender Richard King (right) protects the ball fromTivoli Gardens FC attacker Davion Garrison during their second legsemi-final Jamaica Premier League match on Wednesday, September 29, 2021. (Photo: Dwayne Richards)

For many years we have argued, in this space, that this country needs to treat football as a business if it intends to gain maximum benefits for the game's stakeholders, and the nation in general.

To be fair, there was an attempt at doing so in the past, but it lacked sustenance and the type of application to continue the success we saw when English First Division club Bolton Wanderers offered Harbour View £1 million for Reggae Boy Mr Ricardo Gardner just after the 1988 World Cup.

The appointment in 2020 of Mr Christopher Williams as chairman of Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), the the body that runs the local Premier League, has brought a breath of fresh air to the sport. Mr Williams, the CEO/co-founder of PROVEN Wealth Limited — one of the island's top wealth management companies — is easily among Jamaica's brightest and most talented businessmen.

Early in his tenure, Mr Williams signalled his Administration's intention to transform the local Premier League into a viable financial entity. To do so the PFJL is positioning the league as a business opportunity by creating brand appeal designed to attract an infusion of cash.

Since then the PFJL has agreed club sponsorship deals with Kemtek Development and Construction Limited, Conserve IT Limited, and Konnexx Services Limited in keeping with the new Administration's push to move away from the tradition of a title sponsor for the Premier League.

On January 2 we reported that the PFJL has set its sights on listing at least one of the league's clubs on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange by 2024 — a move that Mr Williams explained will deliver significant revenue opportunities for the club and investors.

His aim, he said, is to offer investment instruments to the market.

“Look at how many football clubs are listed on the London Stock Exchange… that's what we want, that's one of my goals. It's one thing to sell the front of a shirt, or to sell some commercials during a game, that's sponsorship and advertising, but that's just the tip of the opportunity,” he said.

He is, indeed, correct.

The English Premier League's 2019-20 season is reported to have contributed £7.6 billion to the British economy and supported 94,000 jobs, despite the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, we are told that the 20 elite clubs paid out £3.6 billion to the British Government in taxes, including £1.4 billion from the players alone.

On the global scale, the richest football clubs earn annual revenues ranging from just under US$900 million to US$511 million.

In our January 2 report we pointed to the fact that Manchester United Limited, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has a market capitalisation of US$2.35 billion and a brand value of US$13 billion.

These are not numbers to sneeze at.

Mr Williams has explained that to list on the JSE Junior Market, a football club in the Premier League will be required to be incorporated with limited liability, have a minimum of 25 share/stockholders holding not less than 20 per cent of the issued ordinary capital, and have fully paid, subscribed participating voting share capital not less than $50 million and not more than $500 million.

Mr Williams and his team offer hope for the development of the sport here. They deserve kudos and support.

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