Chinese magnate and ‘Moneyball’ maven set to purchase lower league English soccer team together

Former American baseball player Beane set to take a 10 per cent stake in English club

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 2:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 2:20pm

“Moneyball” baseball executive Billy Beane is joining a consortium including Chinese businessman Chien Lee and American investor Paul Conway to acquire English soccer club Barnsley, a source close to the matter revealed on Friday.

The consortium will pay £20 million (HK$209.4 million) for a 98.5 per cent stake in the club from current owner Patrick Cryne, who is terminally ill and said to fans he was “living on borrowed time” in a poignant letter earlier this week.

Chinese businessman Chien Lee, who is majority shareholder at French top tier club Nice, would become the majority shareholder of the English club if the deals goes through. American businessman Conway is also a director at Nice.

Billy Beane, a former American baseball player portrayed by US actor Brad Pitt in the hit film “Moneyball”, will take a 10 per cent stake in the club, the source said. Beane is a minority owner of US baseball team Oakland Athletics.

Lee, Beane or Barnsley could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chinese investment in European soccer – which boomed last year amid state support – has lost some of its glitz after a crackdown by China’s government on capital outflow amid concern over depreciation of China’s currency and excess capital flight.

Authorities have been cracking down so-called “irrational investment”, particularly in sectors such as real estate, entertainment and sports.

The club, situated in a former coal-mining town in South Yorkshire, is currently in the second tier of English football, where it has spent most of its 130 years of existence.