Texan billionaire Bill Foley has ambitions to add a Scottish club to his growing investments in football clubs.
Reports say Foley, the backer of Auckland’s new A-League expansion club, is in advanced discussions with the majority shareholders of Scottish Premiership side Hibernian to take a non-controlling interest.
The club is owned by the family of American businessman Ron Gordon who died in 2022.
The Athletic reports Foley is in advanced talks with the family.
He is the managing partner of Black Knight Football Club, which is an investment group that bought English Premier League club Bournemouth in December 2022 and then bought a 30% stake in French club Lorient in January.
With the addition of his yet-to-be-named Auckland club, Foley is building a global group to maximise opportunities for sharing expertise, knowledge and personnel, on and off the pitch.
The Scottish Football Association has, until recently, opposed attempts for owners to buy shares in clubs if they own more than 25% of another professional club in Europe.
But that stance has eased, and the SFA will consider investments on a case-by-case basis.
The Gordon family own 67% of Hibernian’s shares and The Athletic suggests any investment by Foley is likely to be about 15%, though this could herald a larger investment later.
Athletic writer Matt Slater says: “It is very likely that Foley sees Hibs as the perfect stepping stone for players coming from the A-Leagues in Australia and New Zealand on a possible pathway to the Premier League.”
Whether the Hibernian deal comes off, Foley has laid out his interest in Scottish football.
“I’m fascinated by the Scottish Premier League,” Foley told the Men In Blazers podcast in September.
“They play hard, Scots are tough. They play a tough brand of football. And I believe there are opportunities to make one of the number four, five or six SPL (Scottish Premiership) teams, to get them to number three and they play in Europe.
“I believe we can pull that off with not a gigantic investment — and be a minority investor, be supportive of that club, and then work on sponsorship together because we have a whole sponsorship, and I know we can help an SPL team. We’re working towards that goal right now with a particular team.
“Then we have our sights set on some other clubs. And I believe we could end up with four or five economic interests in clubs. We would then have a system in place for players to advance and move on to the next club, then the next club.
“We will have similar analytics staff in place, and technical directors, to look for the right type of players who can ultimately play for AFC Bournemouth.”