Ellis Short, the co-founder of Dallas based distressed real estate investor Lone Star, has taken full ownership of Sunderland AFC, the Premier League soccer club in the UK.
Sunderland revealed on its website that Short, who bought a controlling stake in the club based in the north of England, in September 2008, had increased his holding to 100 percent. The club declined to reveal the value of his ownership.
According to Sunderland chairman, former Republic of Ireland international footballer Niall Quinn, Short, who retired from Lone Star in 2007, “caught the football bug” after moving to the UK a decade ago. Since becoming involved in the club Short has injected “tens of millions of pounds” to fund new player signings and was instrumental in stopping one of the club’s best players, Kenwyne Jones, from leaving to join rival Tottenham Hotspur for £20 million ($31.8 million; €23 million) in January.
Quinn said: “Even before today he has personally invested more in Sunderland than all previous chairmen, directors and owners combined in the club’s history.”
Short bought his stake in part of an Irish consortium of private investors called the Drumaville Consortium. Quinn said: “They acquired the club and energetically went about driving it forward. Without them Sunderland would not be where it is today and Ellis would not have become involved.”
Sunderland finished the season in 16th position on 36 points having narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship, the second English soccer division.
The investment by Short comes as Sunderland’s rival Portsmouth FC confirmed that it has accepted an undisclosed offer from United Arab Emirate based Sulaiman Al Fahim to buy the club. The investment is understood to be lead by Al Fahim’s Al Fahim Asia Associates, which is being advised by private equity and asset management firm Falcon Group.
Al Fahim’s ties to soccer have been strong in recent times. He was instrumental in structuring the takeover of another Premier League team, Manchester City, by Abu Dhabi United Group last September.
According to one report, a source close to Al Fahim, said: “He did the Man City deal and got the taste for Football.”