Shola Akinlade, co-founder and CEO of Paystack, a leading Nigerian FinTech company, has officially acquired a 55% stake in Aarhus Fremad, a second-division football club in Denmark.
The acquisition, announced on Tuesday, establishes Aarhus Fremad as a sister club to Sporting Lagos FC, a Lagos-based football club in the Nigeria National League founded by Akinlade in 2022.
We expect the collaboration to benefit Aarhus Fremad, a 76-year-old club with a strong community presence, by gaining access to Nigeria’s promising football talent pool and broadening its international scope.
Akinlade expressed his enthusiasm for the joint venture, which will power local communities. “I am truly honoured and excited to embark on this new chapter with Aarhus Fremad and further our shared commitment to engaging and empowering local communities.”
He added that the alliance between Sporting Lagos and Aarhus Fremad will create an environment that nurtures education, growth, and opportunity for players and the community at large.
The Paystack boss also voiced his confidence in Lars Kruse’s ongoing leadership as CEO, asserting their joint commitment to preserving the clubs’ values and long-term goals.
Lars Kruse, CEO of Aarhus Fremad, expressed his excitement about the investment, highlighting the clubs’ shared values and vision for using football as a catalyst for positive change.
“In practical terms, the agreement means that we can have a much larger perspective in Fremad, as well as an international dimension to work with,” he said.
Currently, Aarhus Fremad tops the 2nd division and has a chance of being promoted to Denmark’s second-best league. However, the club has faced financial difficulties in recent years, with Kruse, the former primary equity owner, covering its deficit.
The latest financial report reveals that the club has suffered a loss of two million kroner over the past two years.
In an interview with Arhus Stiftstidende, a Danish newspaper, Kruse discussed the investment, saying, “I’ve been completely honest that I needed some help. I didn’t want to throw it all under the bus, and I’ve always thought that someone must come along when we’ve been as good as we’ve been.”
The collaboration with Akinlade and Sporting Lagos FC is a significant step forward for Aarhus Fremad and the continued development of Nigerian football talent.
Looking beyond Nigeria
Mr Akinlade is following in the footsteps of another Nigerian business mogul, Kunle Soname. After setting up Remo Stars Club in Ikenne, where he hails from, Soname also bought the majority share in a Portuguese club.
In 2015, Soname acquired a majority stake in Clube Desportivo Feirense, a Portuguese football club that competes in the Primeira Liga.
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Five years after Soname’s feat as the first Nigerian to own a European club, Premium Times reported how Nigerian entrepreneur Nneka Ede became the first Nigerian woman to acquire a club in Europe.
Ms Ede also acquired a Portuguese club, Lusitano Ginásio Clube, Futebol, SAD, in 2020.
In recent times, there have been more Nigerians linked to the ownership of different clubs. The latest is that of billionaire mogul, Dozy Mmobuosi, who is keen to take over English Championship club Sheffield United.
Mmobuosi is the founder of Tingo Mobile PLC, an Agri-FinTech establishment, and he is not the first Nigerian to show interest in an English club. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, was previously strongly linked with taking over Arsenal.
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