American sports magnate Bill Foley has revealed his new Auckland club will be used as a stepping stone for English Premier League players.
Foley, whose portfolio includes owning EPL club Bournemouth, told the CBS show Morning Footy he is creating a system of clubs that already includes Auckland and a stake in France Ligue 1 club Lorient.
The Texan financier, said to be worth $2.5 billion, displayed an intimate knowledge of football methods and a desire to play a big role in determining what style his clubs played during the interview.
Bournemouth are about to announce the recruitment of a “really exciting South American player”, Foley said.
“He may be loaned out for the balance of the year to one of our sister clubs,” he said.
“We are really trying to create a modest multi-club model where we can start players in Auckland FC, bring them to Hibs (Hibernian) in Scotland, maybe to go to Lorient, maybe we have a Belgian team.
“We’ll progress them through that system initially to get the playing time and when they come to Bournemouth we have an experienced 22-year-old who is ready to play premier league football.”
Bill Foley, the preferred bidder for the A-League license in Auckland during a press conference at Shed 22, Princes Wharf in Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday November 21, 2023. Photo credit: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
The 79-year-old Foley also established the Vegas Golden Knights franchise that quickly won ice hockey’s glamour Stanley Cup, suggesting he is a man with the golden touch. Part of his ice hockey strategy involved buying a lower-level franchise to act as a development team for the Golden Knights.
His football philosophy looks like a godsend for the Auckland team, which will become the city’s third A-league franchise attempt when it kicks off the 2024/25 season in October.
Foley said Bournemouth - who are enjoying an excellent run of form - could not compete toe-to-toe with clubs owned by sovereign wealth funds, a reference to Manchester City and Newcastle.
Instead, it was using a much smaller club in Brighton as the role model to help navigate towards success.
This would include signing “under the radar” players, and using an attacking style of football in an effort to move up the EPL table and secure a place in European football.
This was the reason for Foley’s surprise sacking of Bournemouth’s “saviour” coach Gary O’Neil, replacing him with Spain’s Andoni Iraola.
Under O’Neil, Bournemouth had been a counter-attack team, but he wanted to employ’s Iraola’s style of “high energy, high up the pitch” attack.
“I knew (O’Neil) would keep us up, but he wouldn’t move us up the EPL,” he said.
“If we were to have a chance to swinging above our weight and be competitive with some of the larger teams we had to play a different style of football.”
And he said character was a huge factor in determining players his sports clubs sign.
“It’s all about character and wanting to win,” he said.
“That’s how I built the Golden Knights from the ground up. We have one of the best locker rooms in the league.”
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