Miami investment group have 'pathway' to Melbourne Victory ownership

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Melbourne Victory's new minority owners, Miami-based group 777 Partners, will have a "pathway" to take a controlling interest in the A-Leagues giant, but Victory's chairman insists that the club's identity will remain sacrosanct.

Victory announced that it had secured a partnership with 777 Partners on Wednesday, declaring that it was "one of the biggest investment deals into a single sports team in Australian history."

News Corp reported that the initial investment is between AU$5 million and AU$10m.

The Australian powers, who will commence their A-League Men season against Sydney FC on Saturday, becomes the latest part of a footballing portfolio already featuring Italian side Genoa, historic Brazilian side Vasco da Gama, Standard de Liege in Belgium and Parisian side Red Star FC, who play in the French third-tier.

777 Partners also holds a minority stake in LaLiga side Sevilla.

Current Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro declined to say how much of a stake in the club the investment firm had taken, but did confirm that it could grow in the future.

"It's a minority stake at the moment, but it has the ability to go into a pathway into a controlling interest at some point," he said. "We're an unlisted public company, so that would require the approval of the shareholders for a larger stake"

Unlike rivals Melbourne Heart, who were re-badged as Melbourne City when they were absorbed by the City Football Group, though, Di Pietro said the investment wouldn't lead to a change in Victory's identity.

"The identity of the club remains as is," said Di Pietro. "That was a big part of the investment and the partnership. All the fabric and the history remain unchanged.

"The club network, each of the clubs if you have a look, they have their own identity. This is similar [to CFG] in the sense that it's an international network, but it's individual in the sense that every club has its own identity.

"And 777 Partners have come along to enhance that and strengthen that through the network. I think our fans will be very excited."

777 Football Group CEO Don Dransfield will take up a position on Victory's board as part of the deal.

He said that beyond Victory's inherent strengths, the structure of the A-Leagues, despite it differing from previous investment locations in being a closed league with no promotion and relegation, was an attraction.

"We look at the Australian league as a league that is incredibly well structured," said Dransfield. "The governance at the A-Leagues is very, very strong. You have a fantastic investor in the A-League in Silver Lake. So for us, this was actually part of the investment thesis. In that, you have such a well-structured and well-governed environment here.

"We now have a portfolio of six clubs playing across a variety of different forms and environment league structures.

"This opportunity here for us in Australia is one that we view as really compelling. Melbourne Victory, as part of that, within that framework and structure is a really clear choice for that."