US investors return Denmark’s Helsingør FC to local ownership

August 31 – Helsingør FC have returned to Danish ownership after the American consortium led by Jordan Gardner decided to relinquish control.

In a statement, Gardner explained the sale of the Danish top flight club to a local businessman: “Our investment group has accepted an offer from a local Danish businessman to buy the club, and we are pleased to complete the transaction and sell our ownership stake. It’s been an honour and privilege to be the managing partner and chairman for this club, an opportunity that only a handful of Americans have in European Football…Over a period of three seasons, we had the fourth most wins (49) of any club in any division in Danish Professional Football.”

Three and half years ago, Gardner, who was also a minority investor in Irish side Dundalk and English Championship team Swansea City, led a group of investors to the Hovedstaden region in Denmark to acquire the local club, reportedly investing DKr7.1 million (about $1.2 million) for a controlling interest of about 51% in Helsingor at the time.

Nick Swinmurn, founder of online shoe retailer Zappos, and Harry Tsao, a serial entrepreneur and investor, John Burbank, the founder of the Passport Capital hedge fund, and Michael de Anda, from investment office de Anda capital, were all part of the team. They also held minority stakes in the Golden State Warriors in the NBA.

“In 2019, we took over a distressed football club and in short order turned it into one of the best and most well-run clubs of our size in Denmark,” wrote Gardner. “We won promotion to the Danish 1st Division in 2020, followed up by two straight top-four finishes, and a near miss on a second promotion in three seasons to the Danish Superliga.”

Gardner had intended the club to become a feeder team, developing American talent – Denmark’s relaxed foreign player restrictions made Helsingor attractive.

In the last few years, Danish football has seen an influx of foreign investors precisely because of the good entry prices, low player wages, established youth development and liberal mainstream culture.

Eight out of 24 clubs in the country’s two best leagues, the Super League and the Nordic Bet League, are owned by foreign investors. The Danish FA (DBU) has been considering whether an owners’ test should be introduced to protect clubs from owners who could threaten the domestic ecosystem.

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