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Silver Lake targets an early lead in Aussie soccer

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Soccer Football – Women – Bronze medal match – Australia v United States – Ibaraki Kashima Stadium, Ibaraki, Japan – August 5, 2021. Megan Rapinoe of the United States in action with Clare Polkinghorne of Australia REUTERS/Edgar Su

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MELBOURNE, Dec 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Aussie-rules football, cricket and rugby are the sporting champions Down Under, but Silver Lake is aiming to give soccer a financial kick. The private equity shop is paying $100 million to buy one-third of the Australian Professional League, which oversees the major men’s and women’s clubs.

The deal values the organisation at nearly 7 times revenue for the financial year before the pandemic hit. Although it’s a somewhat crude comparison given the differences between a league and an individual team, the multiple is similar to what Silver Lake paid for a 10% stake in Manchester City’s owner two years ago. The British club also owns the Melbourne City team, helping provide some insight into Australian soccer.

The APL is just starting life as a standalone business after separating from Football Australia a year ago. It wants to invest more in e-sports and expand its roster of 13 franchises. Silver Lake’s investment should help, and give hope to underdog athletes everywhere. (By Antony Currie)

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Editing by Jeffrey Goldfarb and Katrina Hamlin

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