Leicester City owners agree to buy Belgian club OH Leuven as football's multi-ownership trend grows

Joe Hall
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Leicester City Vichai
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has added another club to his collection (Source: Getty)

Leicester City have become the latest English team to gain a sister club after owners after King Power completed the purchase of Belgian side Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

The Foxes’ Thai owners have signed an agreement to buy the Belgian second division club once due diligence is completed, although it is not clear what future relationship the two teams will have.

According to initial reports of the deal, King Power offered around £2m for OH Leuven, based in a small student city near Brussels.

OH Leuven’s board had been looking for further investment to fuel promotion to Belgium’s top tier — the Jupiler League — and said King Power was “the only bidder who made a clear and coherent proposal writing within the time limit imposed by the board”.

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In a statement the Belgian club’s board said: “OHL has chosen a project that guarantees the future of our club, both financially and in sporting terms. The project provides sufficient financial resources to aspire to the earliest possible return to first class A [Belgian top division].

“The King Power group will keep community work a priority, as well as co-operating with the various supporters’ groups and will further develop the youth programme, all in line with its major sporting ambition for the first team.”

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Since King Power owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha took over Leicester in 2010 for around £39m, the Midlands club has achieved incredible success most notably by winning last season’s Premier League and this year reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

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His purchase of OH Leuven follows a trend of multi-club purchases amongst owners of top European clubs.

Last month, Manchester City’s owners City Football Group added second division club Atletico Torque to their continent-spanning collection of teams.

CFG focus on creating a global brand represented through their clubs while other owners, such as Watford’s Pozzo family, have leveraged a portfolio of clubs to spread talent between them.

Charlton’s absentee owner Roland Duchatelet also has control over a number of small European clubs, while a more successful model has been adopted by Red Bull who own Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Leipzig — this year’s Bundesliga runners up.

Both Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina own stakes in Indian Super League teams — the former have also invested in Mexico — and Champions League semi-finalists Monaco completed the takeover of Belgian second tier side Cercle Brugge earlier this month.

A recent KPMG report predicted that the trend of multi-club ownership would likely continue despite Uefa rules forbidding any company from having control over more than one club in the same competition.

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