W-B gets new American owners
It’s been on the air for a while. Waasland-Beveren was looking for a new owner. After the recent arrival of new Belgian owners (Anderlecht, Standard Liège) and foreign owners (KVO, Mouscron, Lommel SK), it is becoming particularly clear that new resources must be tapped to be competitive. After an extensive screening of the candidate investors, the club is pleased to report the following news. Starting from 14 files, a shortlist was made of 5 eligible candidates. Subsequently, the board of directors has chosen the best path for the future of W-B. Financial director Olivier Swolfs explains: After months of preparatory talks, it is time to land. We wish that the acquirer can make use of the extra mercato opening from September 7th to do where necessary in our team.We have thoroughly scrutinized all the slopes. It was important to find strong financial shoulders in the post-corona era, to be able to enjoy an extensive international network in football, based on proven sporting experience and know-how.
Candidates had to find the same values important and respect the history of our club and its supporters. Other stakeholders such as partners, the municipal council, sponsors and sporting and extra-sportive employees were also discussed during the negotiations. It was also important to be able to continue the path taken by the past 6 years of management, where the club became a financially healthy club in which the youth academy and the project around young people were given an important place. During our search for our best partner, attention was also paid to respect for local anchoring. We applied the principle: think global, act local! We did not get rushed but took our time because this step is a milestone in W-B history. Over the years we have found that we were reaching the limits of what a small club can do in 1A so that the investor had to complement the strengths our club already had. If you build further on what is there, you will get further.
We are pleased to announce that our club’s shareholders have reached an agreement to transfer approximately 97% of the shares to Bolt Football Holdings, a company led by experienced US sports investors that include David Blitzer, Jahm Najafi and Jeff Morad. Messers Najafi and Moorad invested via MSP Sports, a diversified sports holdings group. The principals of Bolt Football Holdings hold controlling ownership stakes in Crystal Palace in the English Premier League, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns in the National Basketball League, and the New Jersey Devils in the National Hockey League. The remaining shares will be filled by the current members of the Board of Directors and supplemented by a number of existing shareholders who will be the embodiment of the local anchoring. This is often lost after a takeover, so that agreements were made about preserving the local character. It was agreed that these shareholders have the right to veto the name, the colors and the localization of the club. The new partners will continue working with the current management team after the acquisition.
The sporting plan for W-B will consist of W-B getting its own identity where the stakeholders will be proud and involved. The focus on the development of their own youth also remains a spearhead. Of course there will be interaction with the network of our new owner. In addition to a board of directors, there will also be a strategic board whose role will be mainly to be able to make proposals to the board of directors from the local point of view.The current board of directors looks back with satisfaction on its term of office of the last 6 years, when profitable football has been put on the agenda. The fight against unjustified non-sporting relegation can also be called a milestone in the football history of Belgium. The board is delighted to hand over the keys to the club to the new owner who has resources, a broader international network and a proven track record of the ins and outs of the football landscape. Everything will be made concrete in the coming weeks.