What a great day it was for professional sports when private equity guys thankfully decided it was high time to bring some proper financial discipline and professional management to an industry that was, in many cases, still mired in the half-baked practices of the amateur era.
Take Liverpool, one of Europe’s most storied football teams. After years of underperformance, who better to turn things around than industry veteran Tom Hicks, who continued his illustrious track record in Europe by, erm, lumbering the club with unsustainable debt, appointing the worst manager in its recent history, failing to build a promised new stadium and taking the club to the brink of bankruptcy.
OK, so maybe Liverpool’s a bad example.
But what about all those buyout guys who have been buying up basketball teams in the US? Look how well the Celtics are doing these days! And the Pistons! And the 76ers!
Anyway, the important thing is that we in private equity can see beyond misleading short-term metrics like win/loss records, trophies won, play-off qualification and so on.
So to fans of the Milwaukee Bucks – the latest franchise to be acquired by private equity guys – First Round would say this: don’t listen to the cynics. Your team’s future is in safe hands.
Just look at Liverpool – back on a financial footing and challenging again for the league title. OK, so that was only after getting rid of Hicks and his partner-in-crime George Gillett. But new owner Fenway Sports Group is kind of private equity, right?