A surprise to many, seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady has announced a partnership with Knighthead Capital Management for a minority stake in Championship club Birmingham City or ‘The Blues’. Being a Brummie myself, although undoubtedly an Aston Villa fan, news of the deal came with many questions. Why is an American football superstar interested in – let’s face it – a less than successful team in recent years? And why are the Blues seeking collaboration with a figurehead of such an opposing sport?
The quarterback himself has admitted to the bizarreness of the announcement, publicly declaring: “Let’s just say I’ve got a lot to learn”
The quarterback himself has admitted to the bizarreness of the announcement, publicly declaring: “Let’s just say I’ve got a lot to learn”. Reminiscent of the hit TV show Ted Lasso, in which an American football coach takes over a failing English football team, Brady stated: “I do know a few things about winning, and I think they might translate pretty well.” He added: “I know success starts with the work put in when the world isn’t watching. I know that a team is nothing without the city that shows up and stands behind it. And most importantly, I know I like being the underdog.”
Brady’s involvement in Birmingham City is tied to investment by US hedge fund Knighthead Capital Management. They recently bought a 46% share of the club and purchased its stadium, taking over daily control. This transformation follows a continued period of disruption from the ever-changing roster of owners, one of whom was jailed for money laundering. For Birmingham, this takeover should provide a certain element of stability and more importantly positive media attention.
Joining the ranks of American celebrities investing in English football as business ventures, Brady will expectedly bring the US market to Birmingham. One of the most legendary players in NFL history, Brady is not only a symbol of hope to fans but also a fantastic reason for Americans to become invested in the success of the club. Knighthead co-founder and Chairman of the Board, Tom Wagner, released a declaration to say Brady getting involved is a “statement of intent”. He emphasised that Brady would have a prominent role: “Tom is both investing and committing his time and extensive expertise.”
There still remains a question regarding the extent of Brady’s participation
There still remains a question regarding the extent of Brady’s participation. Christina Philippou, a sports finance expert at Portsmouth University, told BBC Radio 5 Live that Brady’s new role “is on a new advisory board and that’s not the same as being on the board of directions. Advisory boards are generally advisory, so they can give advice which the board can or choose not to take on board. It really will depend on how this is set up and what the new advisory board looks like and that will become more obvious as time passes.” Philippou does admit, however, that Brady’s financial contribution is “good for Birmingham City”.
Investment in the future of Birmingham is unquestionably good for the club and time will tell whether Brady’s involvement spurs a healthy era of successful football. Doubts aside over him jumping on the American bandwagon, excitement is palpable among both fans and sports professionals.