Robert Earl Buys Into Soccer

Casino and entertainment entrepreneur Robert Earl has become the third U.S.-based businessman to buy into an English Premiership soccer team by acquiring 23 percent of Everton.

The Planet Hollywood founder has acquired his stake from Paul Gregg, who started Apollo Leisure and sold it to SFX Entertainment six years ago.

Gregg, who went on to become Clear Channel’s European chairman before bowing out in 2002, will land far less than the reported £120 million he got for that deal.

Media estimates say a quarter of the Merseyside club – currently around sixth in the league table – is worth about £15 million, valuing Everton at between £80 million and £100 million.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Gregg didn’t get a premium price for his stake because it’s a minority shareholding.

At press time it wasn’t possible to get Gregg’s views on that or the paper’s comments about him wanting to sell because he doesn’t get on with club chairman Bill Kenwright, who also holds 25 percent of the shares.

Unlike the two U.S.-based businessmen who have already bought into Premiership clubs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United and Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner at Aston Villa, Earl is English.

Described by The Telegraph as a man who has “developed a reputation for bouncing back” after Planet Hollywood had to file for U.S. bankruptcy protection in 91 and 99, Earl is also involved in a project to re-launch and re-brand the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas.

The bill to reopen the building as a casino, concert venue and luxury hotel is likely to cost about £600 million, which is roughly what Earl claims to have lost over Planet Hollywood’s brushes with bankruptcy.

– John Gammon