I could break stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers, says Barnsley owner

Barnsley owner Paul Conway insists he CAN break the stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers as he sets his sights on adding to his group’s football empire by buying a club in Scotland next

  • Conway’s Pacific Media Group already own Championship side Barnsley
  • They also own clubs in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland  
  • The SFA have capped the ceiling for owners of other clubs at 24.9 per cent

Barnsley owner Paul Conway insists he could break the stranglehold of Celtic and Rangers if the SFA allowed him to purchase a majority stake in a Scottish club.

Aberdeen, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs are paying Deloitte to conduct a strategic review of the national game.

And dual ownership rules will be one of the areas placed under the spotlight in a quest to attract new money to the Scottish game.

Barnsley’s Paul Conway (left) wants to talk to cash-strapped clubs in the Scottish Premiership

Conway’s Pacific Media Group already own Barnsley in England, AS Nancy in France, KV Oostende in Belgium, Den Bosch in Holland, Esbjerg in Denmark and FC Thun in Switzerland.

Their attempts to add Partick Thistle, Livingston or Dundee to the stable collapsed last year when the SFA capped the ceiling for owners of other clubs at 24.9 per cent.

Conway’s PMG acquired Oostende and turned the £1.7million purchase of Scotland defender Jack Hendry into a £4m profit from Club Brugge three months later.

He believes if they could apply the same data-led ‘Moneyball’ approach to transfers to a club in Scotland, they could finally give the Old Firm a run for their money.

‘If we had a Scottish club we could challenge the duopoly of Celtic and Rangers, 100 per cent,’ Conway told Sportsmail.

Conway insists he could challenge the duopoly of Old Firm if they had a Scottish club

‘Look at our Belgian example. With the lowest budget in the league at Oostende we finished fifth. We have a team now which is aged 24 to 27, we are competitive again this year – and why is that? It’s because our biggest cash flow source is player trading.

‘Think about it and the biggest shopping market in the world is just a few miles south of the border. So if you have a bunch of young attacking players, you can buy a medium-sized club and, through the trading profits, you can be competitive.

‘The way it is set up now, you have the Old Firm who have control of the league and no strategic investment is going to come in to these other clubs.

‘Part of the problem is that the Old Firm, as I understand it, don’t want to encourage inward investment because they have an anti-competitive duopoly.

‘You pick Hearts, Hibs or any other middle-sized clubs and they obviously can’t compete because of the difference in the matchday revenue.

‘But that can be fixed immediately if they are generating £10m to £15m of transfer profit like Oostende.

‘We got into Belgium and in our first year the transfer revenue was two times what we paid for the club the year before.

‘We sold Jack Hendry. We also sold Arthur Theate to Bologna in Italy for £6.5m after we got him on a free the year before.

‘So, if you bring in some strategic investor to recapitalise a team outside the Old Firm and these teams are generating transfer profits, guess what? The league is going to get a lot more competitive.

‘And that will dwarf anything you can do to make commercial improvements to the league. It will also give you a chance of greater TV rights.’

Conway’s consortium owns 80 per cent of Championship side Barnsley as well as several others

The aim of the Strategic Review led by Aberdeen, Dundee, Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs is to double the revenue available to Scottish clubs from £27m to more than £50m.

Aware of potential investors waiting in the wings, the American-based owners of four of the clubs want all options placed on the table – and dual ownership will be one of those in Phase Two of their study.

Warning that Scottish football will be left behind after Holland relaxed their rules enough to allow PMG to buy Den Bosch this summer, Conway added: ‘I will talk to anybody about this. Tell those clubs to give me a call or whatever works.

‘I spoke to the American guys at Dundee before. But I’m happy to talk to anyone about ideas for change.

‘We looked at probably four opportunities to buy a club in Scotland and eventually gave up. It just doesn’t work for us or anyone like us and we grew so fed up we moved on to four other countries.

‘We now have clubs in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Switzerland.

‘Scottish football is falling behind. And you either get on this bus or the league continues to suffer compared to the other leagues.

‘The Dutch league opened up to strategic investors in January and if you are an American investor you are certainly going to go into Holland way before you go into Scotland.’




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