The US firm will take a 33.3 per cent minority stake, which The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports is worth nearly AUS$140 million (US$100 million).
The SMH, which reported in October that a deal was close, adds that the sum values the entire A-Leagues organisation at AUS$425 million (US$303 million). Silver Lake managing director Stephen Evans will also sit as a director on the A-Leagues board.
The money will not go directly to club owners, players, coaches or administrators, though multiple reports state some of the funds will be made available to teams for marquee player signings.
Instead, the bulk of the investment will be used to fund a long-term programme of digital first engagement with supporters. At the heart of this will be a new digital media platform, designed to attract new fans from across the globe.
The digital platform, however, is not intended to disrupt the A-Leagues’ five-year domestic broadcast partnership with ViacomCBS, signed in May, which saw the market launch of Paramount+. Rather, the new digital offering is intended to work in harmony with ViacomCBS.
The A-Leagues’ current TV product is also expected to benefit from the injection of capital, allowing for better experiences on match day and new ways of engaging with teams year-round across all the leagues, including, youth and esports competitions.
More broadly, the funds will look to underpin the future growth and development of Australia’s elite soccer leagues, while also providing Football Australia, the national governing body, with the opportunity to deliver on a growth agenda for the whole of Australian soccer as part of a 15-year vision.
“This valuation recognises the latent potential that has long existed in the professional game in Australia, and the ability of our board and executive team to realise that potential,” said A-Leagues chair Paul Lederer.
Chris Nikou, chairman of Football Australia, added: “Today’s announcement is a direct consequence of the work undertaken and is another step forward for the sport and one which will inject vital capital and ensure that our sport continues to thrive from grassroots through to the professional leagues.”
The deal continues Silver Lake’s march into sports. On the soccer front, the firm bought a ten per cent stake in City Football Group (CFG), owner of Premier League champions Manchester City and A-League Men winners Melbourne City, for US$500 million in November 2019.
Silver Lake also reportedly held talks with Cricket Australia (CA) earlier this year to discuss private equity investment and has been trying to get a deal with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) over the line for a stake in the All Blacks’ commercial rights business.