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Football fans: five fund managers backing the beautiful game

Following the news that Terry Venables is to launch a football fund, we look at five managers who invest in the sport.

George Soros

Manchester United

Legendary fund manager George Soros bought into the Red Devils via his Quantum group of fund on 9 August 2012, the day the club floated 10% of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Despite missing out on a place in this year’s Champions League, Manchester United’s share price has risen in recent months as deals for television rights and multiple commercial partnerships have secured a constant revenue stream for the club.

Not every fund manager is a fan however. Crispin Odey’s London-based Odey Asset Management took a short position against Man Utd in December 2013. Odey cited the Glazer family’s ownership of the club, rather than poor performances on the pitch, as the reason for the short. United's share price is up 26.43% since the float.

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Crispin Odey

Borussia Dortmund

But Odey (pictured) is not against backing all football teams. His firm holds German club Borussia Dortmund in three funds, making it one of the largest shareholders in the club.

The team’s share price rose sharply in June ahead of Germany winningthe World Cup with several Dortmund players in the squad.

However, the rise in share price was probably more down to a new 11-year sponsorship deal with chemical company Evonik rather than a general German love-in. Year to date, its share price is up 34.45%.

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Erik Esselink

Ajax

Citywire AAA-rated manager Erik Esselink holds a 0.51% position in Dutch champions Ajax through his £586 million Invesco Continental European Small Cap fund.

Esselink believes that many investors have overlooked the share's potential due to the illiquid nature of the holding.

He told Citywire that Ajax was a reliable investment because of the club’s commitment to developing and selling young footballers, and its continued success in the Dutch league.

While the club won its fourth consecutive domestic league title in May and has another run in the Champions League this season, it is again a lucrative TV deal – Fox has the rights to the Eredivise, the top Dutch league, for the next 12 years – that has pushed up the share price. Its share price is up 22.8% year to date.

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Nick Train

Juventus and Celtic

Citywire AA-manager Nick Train (pictured) has invested in more than one football club via his Lindsell Train Global Equity fund and the Finsbury Growth & Income investment trust.

He has a 2.2% stake in Italian champions Juventus and a 7% stake in Scottish champions Celtic.

Juventus has been generally consistent over the last year, having reached a high point in October 2012, while the football team has continued to succeed on the field, winning several trophies.

Earlier this month, Train increased his stake in Celtic to 7%. The club was valued at £35million in 2011 when Train initially bought shares. Back then he told Citywire that this was a significant discount. He was proved to be right as Celtic was recently valued at £50 million.

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Related Fund Managers

Crispin Odey
Crispin Odey
42/181 in Equity - Global Equities (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 57.26%
Nick Train
Nick Train
34/181 in Equity - Global Equities (Performance over 3 years) Average Total Return: 59.32%
Erik Esselink
Erik Esselink
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