Patron Capital Buys Powerleague

Patron Capital Partners has completed its acquisition of Powerleague, owner and operator of 5-a-side football centers in Europe. The deal includes over £50 million in equity, at an enterprise value in excess of £80 million.

Patron Capital Partners („Patron‟), a leading private equity and property fund, has completed its takeover of Powerleague plc („Powerleague‟ or „the Company‟), the largest owner and operator of 5-a-side football centres in Europe, and formerly listed on AIM with an enterprise value in excess of £80 million. “Patron has backed the management team, led by Sean Tracey (Chief Executive) and Sheena Beckwith (Finance Director), who along with the senior management and other key team members will be instrumental in the growth of the business.

Patron has strengthened the management team with additional experience and expertise, including naming Jonathan First to the Board, former commercial director at Esporta, who has been working at Powerleague for the six months, has 20 years of experience in the leisure sector and in particular has extensive leisure site rollout experience across Europe, and the Sky Sports presenter, Richard Keys, one of the most respected and recognised faces in TV football, who has agreed to join the company as a non-executive director.

Powerleague operates a portfolio of 44 sites across the UK, including the 22 pitch Old Trafford Soccerdome, the largest 5-a-side football centre in the world. It provides excellent sports, fitness and leisure facilities to over 130,000 people each week, with over 500 divisions and over 4,000 league teams around the country. Powerleague works closely with local communities with more than 20,000 children playing for free at its centres each week.

Keith Breslauer, Managing Director of Patron Capital, said: “Powerleague is an exciting opportunity within the Patron investment portfolio. The company has strong growth potential and has proved to be resilient in the challenging economic climate.

“We were attracted to Powerleague by the strength of the management team and its leading position within the sector. Its business model and effective asset backed cash flows are entirely in line with Patron’s strategy. With Patron’s support, Powerleague will have the financial and operational flexibility it needs to increase and convert its significant pipeline of potential sites.”

The takeover was financed entirely with equity capital from Patron Fund III, with third party debt being used only to refinance the existing debt facilities. In addition to the over £50m equity invested on acquisition, Patron has underwritten significant additional equity capital to at least double the business over next three to five years with an aggressive roll-out of new sites. Patron will be actively helping this process via its network of contacts and its extensive knowledge of the UK and European property markets.

Sean Tracey, Chief Executive Powerleague added: “Patron is a highly respected and successful investment fund with strong private equity and real estate expertise. This made them a very attractive partner for us at such a crucial stage in our development. Patron has significant equity resources and a wide network of global relationships within the leisure and property industries throughout the UK and Europe that will be entirely available for Powerleague to benefit from. We believe that these resources will help enable us to affect a step change in the growth of the business. The Company’s focus continues to be the growth of its site portfolio, with the UK as its core market, alongside expansion into Europe. In the last two months the Company has opened two centres – one in the West Midlands, and a second unique site in the heart of London’s West End, close to Regents Park.”

He added: “I am extremely pleased that Richard and Jonathan have joined our board. These appointments will significantly boost Powerleague’s profile in the football world and can only benefit our strategy to attract blue chip corporate partners, potential sponsorship opportunities and new sites for our roll-out strategy.”

Richard Keys, said: “I am excited about joining the market leader in grass roots small sided football in the UK. The great appeal of the 5 a-side game is its all embracing nature and the participation of all age groups, from kids, to men and women in their 50s and 60s. I look forward to being an ambassador for the company and working with the management team to identify both commercial and charitable opportunities.”