The concept of multi-club ownership is gaining traction in modern soccer, with prominent groups like the City Football Group expanding their influence globally. However, North Sixth Group, under the guidance of Chairman Matt Rizzetta, is taking a different approach, focusing on acquiring and investing in clubs at the lower tiers of the sport.
North Sixth Group has introduced Club Underdog, a venture dedicated to purchasing and supporting soccer clubs in the lower echelons of the sport. Rizzetta sees significant potential in these underdog clubs, characterised by reduced risk, substantial upside, and valuable marketing opportunities.
Club Underdog's initial portfolio includes Campobasso FC in Italy, which garnered attention when media personalities Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos joined their ownership group. Campobasso achieved promotion to Serie D, Italy's fourth tier, in their first season under new ownership. The portfolio also includes a minority stake in Serie B side Ascoli FC and the founding of USL League One club Brooklyn FC in the United States.
The most recent addition to their ownership is FC Locarno, located near the Swiss-Italian border. Locarno faced financial difficulties and underwent demotion to the ninth tier after bankruptcy in 2018. The club was eventually purchased by local veterinarian Mauro Cavalli, who oversaw four consecutive promotions. North Sixth acquired Locarno from Cavalli for an undisclosed sum.
Rizzetta emphasises that Switzerland, as part of their multi-club approach, strategically plays an essential role for Club Underdog due to its growth potential and proximity to Italy, which can serve as a proving ground for Campobasso and Ascoli players.
While Club Underdog aims for success on the sporting front, Rizzetta also recognises the broader potential for the city of Locarno to become a prominent tourist destination, further benefiting the team.
Rizzetta points to Wrexham AFC, owned by actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, as an example of a club that achieved promotion to the English Football League and gained popularity through a documentary series.
While the Club Underdog model requires a longer timeline for success and hands-on care, it aligns with regional economic trends. Valuations from investment rounds estimate Campobasso and Brooklyn at $15 million and $50 million, respectively. Club Underdog aims to achieve a total valuation of $100 million, encompassing existing and potential future clubs.
Rizzetta highlights the growing economies of Poland and the strong player development programs in Uruguay as areas of interest. Moreover, the appeal of a multi-club strategy in England is hard to ignore.
Additionally, Club Underdog plans to establish a women's club to complement Brooklyn FC, reflecting the remarkable growth of the women's game in America. In all cases, these clubs are determined to ascend the ranks of the sport.