HomeAustralia and New ZealandAmerican billionaire Bill Foley secures A-Leagues license for Auckland expansion

American billionaire Bill Foley secures A-Leagues license for Auckland expansion

American billionaire Bill Foley secures A-Leagues license for Auckland expansion

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have officially granted a full A-Leagues license to American billionaire Bill Foley, marking a significant development for the 2024-25 season.

Foley, the founder and general partner of Black Knight Football Club, which owns AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League and holds a substantial investment in FC Lorient of France’s Ligue 1, is set to bring Auckland-based men’s and women’s teams to the A-Leagues.

He also owns the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup champions, Vegas Golden Knights.

“Building a championship team from expansion has been my most exhilarating professional achievement, and I aim to do the same for the fans of New Zealand and particularly the community on the North Island. It’s a special place and an area that I know will embrace this team,” Foley said on Tuesday.

APL Chair Stephen Conroy praised Foley’s track record and relationship with New Zealand.

“We are delighted to welcome Bill and his team to the A-Leagues and look forward to seeing the club in action next year,” Conroy stated.

The Auckland-based franchise will join Wellington Phoenix in the men’s and women’s A-Leagues. The Auckland Kingz (1999-2004) and New Zealand Knights (2005-07) previously competed in the A-League from New Zealand’s biggest city, but the clubs endured largely tumultuous existences.

Andrew Pragnell, Chief Executive of New Zealand Football, described the expansion into Auckland as a “step change moment” for football development in the country, marking it as truly Australasian league.

“This is an exciting day and we welcome Bill Foley to the wider football system in this country. Bill has seen the potential of Auckland as a football city and is here for the long haul to help grow and develop the sport,” Pragnell said.

“The relationship between New Zealand Football and Football Australia has never been stronger and it has been great to see the benefits of co-hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 spread far and wide.

“This expansion has been in part made possible by these positive trans-Tasman football relations and we look forward to this continuing over the coming years. We are truly stronger together and the region as a whole benefits from football development when we are aligned.”

Football Australia and New Zealand Football are now seeking final approval from the Oceania Football Confederation, the Asian Football Confederation and FIFA.

Nick Garcia, A-Leagues commissioner, joined representatives from Football Australia and New Zealand Football in Auckland to formally award the licence to Bill Foley in Auckland.

Foley confirmed the appointment of New Zealander Nick Becker as the Chief Executive Officer of the new club, which is currently unnamed.

Foley’s extensive investments in New Zealand, including Foley Wines Ltd and various businesses, showcase his long-term commitment to the region. However, he is no stranger to the sporting landscape and is accustomed to investing substantial amounts to secure expansion rights or ownership.

Foley has a track record of substantial investments, including the $828 million expansion fee for the Golden Knights in the NHL. His ownership of AFC Bournemouth in the English Premier League further attests to his capability to lead a successful football franchise.

Auckland football fans are hopeful that Foley’s ownership will bring the same philosophy and expectation for success that has characterised his other ventures, marking a significant milestone for the city’s first fully professional club in 17 years.

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