An American billionaire who owns English Premier League club Bournemouth has secured the licence for the new Auckland franchise that will join the A-League next year.
Bill Foley, who has an estimated worth of $US1.6bn ($A2.5bn), has been named by the Australian Professional Leagues as the “preferred bidder” for the new Auckland club joining the A-League men’s and women’s competitions in the 2024-25 season.
Foley is managing general partner of Black Knight Football and Entertainment, which owns Bournemouth and French top-flight outfit FC Lorient.
The 78-year-old Texan also owns American ice hockey team Vegas Golden Knights in his roles as lead investor, chairman and chief executive officer of the Black Knight Sports and Entertainment consortium.
Foley already has links with New Zealand as the owner of multiple Kiwi businesses, including Foley Wines Ltd, a restaurant group and the Wharekauhau lodge on the South Wairarapa Coast.
“My family and I have a genuine appreciation and love for New Zealand,” Foley said.
“We will look to strengthen this connection even further by acquiring an A-League expansion licence in Auckland, which will allow us to establish both a men’s and women’s club in the city.
“Black Knight Football Club operates with a commitment to excellence on and off the pitch. “Our goal will be to build a winning organisation while simultaneously serving the community and growing the sport – and passion for the sport – at all levels.
“We are extremely excited to reach this stage in the process and look forward to the next steps.”
Football Australia is also set to approve Foley’s licence bid, which will then be endorsed by the Asian and Oceania football confederations and New Zealand Football.
A-League commissioner Nick Garcia said Foley would bring “direct elite football experience” to the competition.
“Importantly, Bill is passionate about Auckland and has a long-term relationship with New Zealand through his business interests,” Garcia said.
“Auckland has been the largest city in Australia and New Zealand without a professional football team despite football being the most popular team participation sport nationally in New Zealand.
“We look forward to building on the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing football fans in Auckland with their new home team.”