'Moneyball' coming to football

"Moneyball" baseball executive Billy Beane is joining a consortium including Chinese businessman Chien Lee and American investor Paul Conway to acquire English s football club Barnsley, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Friday.

China magnate, 'Moneyball' baseball executive eye Barnsley buy

(Reuters)

The consortium will pay £20 million ($33 million AUD) 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 and general manager, famously portrayed by U.S. actor Brad Pitt in the hit movie "Moneyball", will take a 10 percent stake in the club, the source said. Beane is a minority owner of U.S. baseball team Oakland Athletics.

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Reuters could not immediately reach Lee, Beane or Barnsley for comment.

The 'Moneyball' tactics, used famously by the Oakland 'A's in their improbable run to the World Series, involve a heavy use of data analysis, as well as wheeling and dealing with trades to form efficient teams.

The translation of the philosophy to other sports has been seen most recently within American football with the Cleveland Browns looking to play their way out of consistent underacheivement. They hired the services of Paul de Podesta, played by Jonah Hill in the movie, and he has been key to a strategy that has resulted in many pundits being optimistic for their future as an NFL franchise. 

Chinese investment in European football - 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.


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Published 15 September 2017 at 3:02pm
Source: Reuters