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Classic Football Shirts Receives Over $35 Million Investment from Chernin Group

Private equity firm The Chernin Group (TCG) has announced a substantial investment exceeding $35 million in the football apparel company Classic Football Shirts. This investment marks a significant milestone for the Manchester-based company, renowned for its vintage and match-worn football apparel.

Classic Football Shirts, founded in 2006 by Doug Bierton and Matthew Dale, has grown organically from a small operation into a recognized brand with stores across the United Kingdom. The company is set to expand its international presence with a new pop-up shop in New York City, opening on May 16.

Greg Bettinelli, a partner at TCG, led the investment, citing the company’s authentic growth and strong community engagement as key factors. "What’s great about this business is it’s organically grown for 18 years. It’s been profitable every year along the way,” Bettinelli noted. “They don’t spend a tremendous amount of money on Facebook or Instagram … it’s all been done organically and those are the attributes that we’re looking for.”

Before TCG’s involvement, Classic Football Shirts was entirely self-funded. Founders Bierton and Dale reminisced about the challenges they faced, including long nights and maxed-out credit cards, to keep the business afloat during its early years.

Formed in 2010 by Peter Chernin, Jesse Jacobs, and Mike Kerns, TCG focuses on consumer businesses in sports, digital media, and gaming. The firm's portfolio includes investments in Premier Lacrosse League, Barstool Sports, Oura, Cars & Bids, Action Network, and other companies. Recently, TCG invested in Unrivaled Sports, the parent company of David Blitzer and Josh Harris’ youth sports assets, signalling potential synergies with Classic Football Shirts in the youth sports space.

Bettinelli sees exciting partnership opportunities ahead. “I think we could see pop-up shops around our youth soccer events, something like that or potentially do something collaborative where we have stores in New York and Los Angeles and other places if we have content or youth sports experiences, we could potentially come together,” he said.

TCG's investment in Classic Football Shirts aligns with its strategy of supporting authentic memorabilia ventures. In 2021, TCG led a $40 million investment in Goldin Auctions, alongside notable figures like Dallas Mavericks minority owner Mark Cuban and NBA star Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns. Additionally, TCG has invested in Collectors Holdings, owned by New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and venture capitalist Nat Turner, which acquired Goldin Auctions in 2021 and later sold it to eBay.

With TCG’s backing, Classic Football Shirts is poised for significant growth, leveraging its strong brand and authentic approach to capture a larger share of the global football apparel market.


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