Soccer Club That Loans Out Top Talent is Set to IPO

    • Club Brugge, a top Belgian team, is set to IPO later this month.
    • Brugge has a revenue model based on loaning out its top talent to clubs in other European leagues.

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Club Brugge sits atop the Belgian Pro League standings, but its pitch to investors is less about the quality of the team and more about the value of its individual players.

Brugge is set for an initial public offering later this month. Its investor group will sell 30% of the club in shares at a valuation of roughly $273 million.

While other clubs like Ajax, Dortmund, Juventus, and Manchester United have publicly listed shares, those clubs have more conventional models of appealing to fans with star players and winning teams. Brugge takes a different tack, acting as the feeder team for European clubs that will pay handsomely to borrow top talent.

“We are making stars,” said Bart Verhaeghe, chairman of investor group Grizzly Sports NV, which is selling the shares. “Other teams are consuming stars.”

The club netted $33.5 million from $71.7 million in player transfer revenues in the 2019-2020 season and have added a net $19.5 million to its coffers through transfers this season. Most of this season’s haul came from the January transfer of 21-year-old Krépin Diatta to French club Monaco for $18.4 million. 

“We have a unique way of making players the best version of themselves, and we are dominant in the local market,” Verhaeghe said.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, club profits grew 148% to $28.8 million.