Mercury 13, a group led by the sports entrepreneur Victoire Cogevina Reynal, have said they are going to invest $100m (£79.6m) in acquiring women’s football clubs in Europe and Latin America, starting with Lewes FC who arethe English second-tier.
The consortium includes former players such as the ex-England forward Eni Aluko, who is also a former Aston Villa and Angel City sporting director, and the former Italy goalkeeper Arianna Criscione. Fifa’s former chief innovation officer, Luis Vicente, and Nancy Hensley – who formerly worked at Stats Perform – are also part of the group.
Lewes play in the FA Women’s Championship, which is one tier below the Women’s Super League. They reached the FA Women’s Cup quarter-finals last season, losing to the eventual runners-up, Manchester United. In 2017, they became the first English club to split its budget and resources equally between the men’s and women’s teams.
The men’s side play in the Isthmian Premier League, the seventh tier of the football pyramid – but Mercury 13’s investment would be focused on the women’s team only. The group are also in advanced negotiations to acquire first division women’s teams in Spain and Italy, as well as clubs in Argentina and Uruguay.
“Lewes was a clear choice, since they represent many core principles of how we believe a women’s club should be managed,” Cogevina said. “Building a world-class management team and advisory board has been my first order of business. Women’s football lacks dedicated executives who can take the business to the next level and transform it into the best asset class of our generation.”
The announcement comes on the back of the runaway success of the Women’s World Cup, with the final having record television viewing figures for women’s football in Spain and England. The ninth edition of the tournament also had record attendance with nearly two million fans flocking to stadiums in Australia and New Zealand.