Football Pools sale: Sportech agrees £83m deal with Opcapita

Oliver Gill
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Southampton v Chelsea - Premier League
Opcapita chief exec Henry Jackson is a big Chelsea fan (Source: Getty)

The iconic Football Pools has been sold to the turnaround firm that counts former retailers such Comet and MFI as previous investments in a deal worth £83m.

Sportech said today it would sell the firm to Opcapita, after a £100m deal to offload the business to Burlywood Capital fell through last November.

The Football Pools, where players select outcomes on matches, were a staple in many homes throughout the 1970s and 1980s. But the launch of the National Lottery in 1994 hit business hard, with Britons attracted to the multi-million pound prizes on offer.

Read more: The Football Pools to be sold for nearly £100m

John Von Spreckelsen, the chairman of Opcapita said the Football Pools occupied "a unique place in British culture".

Historically, the pools were sold by door-to-door salesmen. More recently, Sportech opened up playing online and other complementary games such as "Spot the Ball".

Over the last few months Sportech inked a deal with WHSmith to sell the game in its stores.

Read more: Buyout house OpCapita acquires Spanish food retailer La Sirena

Von Spreckelsen added: "Sportech has successfully modernised the business and we look forward to realising its significant growth potential. As part of that growth strategy, we plan to ensure existing loyal customers continue to enjoy the game and bring The Football Pools, already loved by so many, to an even wider audience."

No debt?

Opcapita will move the Football Pools business into a newly incorporated company called FP Acquisitions.

Kevin Berry of financial advisers Dean Street said the turnaround firm would initially invest £83m as share equity rather than loan notes or other debt-like instruments.

He added it will seek bank financing in due course and ultimate structure of OpCapita's investment has not been finalised.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval and sign-off by regulator, the Gambling Commission.

Behind the deal – Opcapita's financial adviser

Name? Kevin Berry
Firm? Dean Street Advisers
How long did the deal take? Three to four months
How big was your team? Four people
What was the biggest hurdle/issue during the deal? The tie-up between the Football Pools and WHSmith
Which lawyers did you work with? We had MacFarlanes assisted by Wiggin. Sportech had Freshfields
What is your football team? Arsenal

What is the football team of Henry Jackson (Opcapita chief executive) Chelsea

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