US company invests in Rio Vasco da Gama football club

Soccer Football – Brasileiro Championship – Vasco da Gama v Santos – Estadio Sao Januario, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – December 20, 2020 Vasco da Gama players celebrate after the match REUTERS/Alexandre Loureiro

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Feb 21 (Reuters) – Vasco da Gama is set to become the latest Brazilian soccer club to be taken over by outside investors on Monday when U.S. investment firm 777 Partners reached a deal to acquire a majority stake, the Rio club said .

Vasco said the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding that values ​​the club at 1.7 billion reais ($333.1 million) and includes an agreement from the Miami-based company to assume a debt of 700 million reais ($137.16 million).

The deal for 70% of the club still needs to be approved by their members in a vote.

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“It is with pride that we announce the biggest deal in the history of Brazilian clubs,” said Vasco president Jorge Salgado.

“We have worked tirelessly over the past few months to find a long-term partner with financial and operational capability that shares our ambition to put Vasco back in its place as a giant in Brazilian and South American football.”

Investors 777 Partners, which have previously invested in Italian club Genoa and Spanish club Sevilla, did not respond to requests for comment.

Vasco is the 11th most valuable club in Brazil, according to Sports Value, a Sao Paulo-based branding company. Players such as World Cup winners Romario and Bebeto, and current Brazilian striker Philippe Coutinho, have all played with the Rio side.

However, despite having one of the biggest fanbases in Brazil, they have fallen on hard times recently and will be spending a second year in a row playing in Brazil’s second division.

Vasco is the third major Brazilian club to welcome outside investors in recent weeks, following the sale of Cruzeiro to former Brazilian striker Ronaldo, and Botafogo to US investor John Textor.

The deals come on the heels of a landmark decision by Brazil’s Congress to relax long-standing rules governing club ownership.

Brazilian clubs have traditionally been fan-owned and governed under often opaque circumstances, but new legislation means they can now be run as limited liability companies and controlled by investors who can benefit from a more reliable legal framework. .

The move has sparked renewed interest in the clubs that produce some of the world’s greatest footballers.

“The agreement creates the conditions for Vasco football to return to its high sporting performance,” a club statement said, and includes provisions for investment in other Olympic and Paralympic sports managed by the club.

($1 = 5.1036 reais)

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Reporting by Andrew Downie Editing by Christian Radnedge

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