November 3 – The US-based Binnie family, through their Carlisle Capital investment vehicle, have taken an initial 55% stake in Danish second tier side AC Horsens for DKK27 million (£3.1 million).
In a share acquisition that was approved by 99.7% of AC Horsens membership, the Binnies’ will eventually hold about 70% of the club’s shares.
Playing in the Danish First Division, the club has bounced between that division and the Danish Super League, never quite managing to maintain a foothold in the top league as it has generally had to sell its best players every season to balance the accounts. The Binnies will bring the focus and reach of their player scouting and development business to AC Horsens
They will also bring stability to the club’s financial position as it bids to return to the Super League, though it looks likely that the promotion push will not begin in earnest until next season. AC Horsens currently lies seventh in the table but is 19 points behind league leaders AaB as the Danes head towards the winter break.
At an extraordinary general meeting, chairman Claus Olsen said that the club, with a turnover of DKK 40 million, was caught in a cycle of never being able to generate enough income to be competitive as it was forced to sell its best players for DKK 5-10 million a year to keep the club finances in the black.
Olsen said the Binnie investment allow them to break that cycle and keep players at the club as they reached both their playing peak and their highest value.
This is the first club investment for the Binnies though they have looked at a number of European clubs over the past three years, including English Premier League and Championship clubs, before making their first move with AC Horsens.
The Binnies have held back from spending money because they felt that most of the clubs they were looking at were financially unsustainable. “Buying a club is easy, finding one that is sustainable is difficult,” said one insider to the deal.
Carlisle Capital has a broad-based investment portfolio covering media, and real estate development as well as owning specialist sports company Lighthouse Sports. It prides itself on being a patient investor who works with management in the businesses it invests in to add value. Founded in 1984, “Carlisle has completed billions of dollars of successful transactions, acquisitions and financings”, said a company statement.
Lighthouse Sports is primarily a player scouting and development business run by former Manchester United scout Scott Donnelly. It is the player development strategy that is expected to bring a new dimension to AC Horsens, both behind the scenes in training players but also in sourcing new players and increasing their transfer values. The model is that this will bring achieve the twin goals of performing higher up the leagues as well as establishing a stronger financial base.
Bill Binnie will chair the club’s new board, which will also include his two sons Adam and Colin. Olsen will continue on the board.
“We believe we can bring considerable value to the club, not just through the investment of capital but through strategic thinking and the value we can bring through our scouting network,” said Adam Binnie, Vice President of Carlisle Capital and Lighthouse Sports.
Emphasising that the change in shareholding is not expected to lead to a major upheaval at the club, Binnie continued: “This is a well-run club and we look forward to working closely with the executive team.”
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