A dynamic consortium, led by sports entrepreneur Victoire Cogevina Reynal under the name Mercury 13, has unveiled an ambitious investment strategy of $100 million (£79.6 million) aimed at acquiring women's football clubs across Europe and Latin America. The initiative's initial foray will be into Lewes FC, an English second-tier team.
This coalition boasts an array of former players, including Eni Aluko, the ex-England forward, who also held roles as a former sporting director for Aston Villa and Angel City. Also in the mix is former Italy goalkeeper Arianna Criscione, along with notable figures like Luis Vicente, FIFA's former chief innovation officer, and Nancy Hensley, previously associated with Stats Perform.
Lewes FC presently competes in the FA Women's Championship, one level beneath the esteemed Women's Super League. Notably, the team achieved the FA Women's Cup quarter-finals in the prior season, ultimately falling to eventual runners-up, Manchester United. Renowned for their groundbreaking approach, Lewes FC became the first English club in 2017 to distribute their budget and resources equally between their men's and women's teams.
Despite their men's side participating in the Isthmian Premier League, positioned at the seventh tier of the football pyramid, the investment by Mercury 13 will be laser-focused on the women's team exclusively. The consortium is concurrently engaged in advanced negotiations concerning the acquisition of women's first division teams in Spain and Italy, as well as venturing into clubs located in Argentina and Uruguay.
Cogevina elaborated on the consortium's decision to start with Lewes, stating, "Lewes was a clear choice, since they represent many core principles of how we believe a women’s club should be managed." She underlined her dedication to assembling a top-tier management team and advisory board, addressing a recognised need for adept executives within women's football capable of elevating the sport's business aspects to new heights. She also envisions this undertaking as an opportunity to transform women's football into a sought-after asset class of significant value.
This announcement arrives amidst the resounding success of the Women's World Cup, marked by record-breaking television viewership figures for women's football in Spain and England during the final match. The ninth iteration of the tournament further solidified its appeal, witnessing a remarkable surge in attendance, with nearly two million spectators converging upon stadiums in Australia and New Zealand.