Sports Group advise on acquisition of Sale Sharks

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Walker Morris Sports Group scores with fourth club deal in six months

The Walker Morris Sports Group has continued its run of club investment deals with the announcement that it advised Brian Kennedy on the sale of Sale Sharks Rugby Club, marking the Group’s fourth such deal in six months.

After 16 years under Brian Kennedy’s control, Sale Sharks, which is one of the oldest clubs in English rugby, has been acquired by CorpAcq Ltd, an investment group led by Simon Orange, brother of ex-Take That member Jason.

They will replace majority shareholders Brian Kennedy and Ian Blackhurst, who were both co-owners at the Sharks.

During Brian Kennedy’s tenure as owner, they were the Premiership champions in 2006, won the European Challenge Cup in 2002 and 2005 and will play European Champions Cup rugby next season after finishing sixth. Mr Kennedy also oversaw the move to the A.J. Bell Stadium which they share with Salford Red Devils rugby league club.

Head of the Walker Morris Sports Group, David Hinchliffe, commented:

“Sale Sharks has a great heritage and has achieved much success over the last 16 years under the ownership of Brian Kennedy. We’ve known Brian for many years and have always been impressed by the passion, energy and integrity he brings to all his sporting and business transactions. It has therefore been particularly pleasing to support him on this transaction to hand over the reigns to CorpAcq. We have no doubt that the new owners will continue to build on the Shark’s success and take the Club to the next level.”

In the last six months the Walker Morris Sports Group have acted on four such club investment deals including advising the owners of Bradford City Football Club on its sale to ER Sports Group GmbH, the purchase of Bolton Wanderers FC and the US investment in Crystal Palace FC.

“We’ve seen several club acquisitions in recent months which partially reflects the confidence in the economy and the increasing interest from overseas investors. At Walker Morris we are one of the few law firms to offer a complete sports law service which makes us ideally placed to support our clients on such transactions.”

Brian Kennedy commented:

“The last 16 years at the helm of this great club has been a great privilege. We have had many wonderful moments’ particularly winning two European trophies and The Premiership championship for the first time in the clubs history.

“The Walker Morris Team’s unrivalled experience in buying and selling sports clubs, made them a natural choice as legal advisors. I would like to thank them for their advice and expertise which they brought to this transaction. The Team’s hard work at every turn ensured the deal progressed smoothly.”

“I would like to thank our remarkable employees, players and coaches over the years with particular mention of Dave Swanton, Lisa Robinson, Paul Smith, Alan Blease, Robbie Dickson, Pete Anglesea and of course Steve Diamond. These folks were with me pretty much from day one and have proved to be the foundation of the club and I’m sure will go on to support the new owners with the same dedication shown to me. I would also like to thank our sponsors over the years and the Premiership Rugby team who have grown the game centrally to the current dynamic level.

“My son Jonny Kennedy has in the last couple of years worked tremendously well with the coaching team in recruiting our strongest squad for many years and driving the commercial activities to create a business that is self-sustainable with a first class academy developing organic talent in the North West.

“Finally, I thank the supporters and the supporters club for the tremendous backing and dignified support they have given to our club, and to me personally, over the years through good times and difficult times. My business partner Ian Blackhurst and myself now hand the club over debt free and in healthy order to Simon Orange and his substantial business group CorpAcq. We are confident Simon and his team have the right credentials, energy and passion to take the club to the next level and we wish them and the club the greatest of success in the future.”

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