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Former Disney Boss Michael Eisner Seals Deal for English Soccer Team

Former Disney chief Michael Eisner has joined the elite ranks of English soccer team owners, completing a deal for Portsmouth Football Club through his Tornante investment group.

Eisner’s group will pay about £5.7 million ($7.5 million) for the club and has committed to plowing in a further £10 million in investment.

Portsmouth, known to its fans as “Pompey,” will play in League One this year, effectively the third tier of English soccer, below the Premier League and the Championship.

Eisner will sit on the board of Portsmouth, along with his three sons, Breck, Eric and Anders, and Mark Catlin, who has been the club’s CEO for four years and who will continue in that role. Andy Redman, president of Tornante, will also be on the board.

“My family and I are thrilled to take on this incredible responsibility as stewards of a football club with such a rich heritage,” Eisner said. “We have come to know the Pompey community in recent months, and we are extremely impressed by their passion, dedication and love for their club.”

Caitlin added: “Now we embark on an exciting new chapter in the club’s history, and one that, under the stewardship of Michael Eisner, his family, Andy Redman and the Tornante group, I am totally confident will continue to build on the strong foundations that have been built over the past four seasons.”

Billionaire individuals, or well-capitalized companies, from the U.S., Russia, China and the Middle East all now own English teams. The top-level Premier League is the most lucrative globally, with the domestic TV rights alone to league matches commanding more than £5 billion in the last auction.

Portsmouth, after a period of financial difficulty, had been fan-owned. The Supporters’ Trust, which owned almost half of the club, gave the Eisner deal its blessing. “Our passionate supporters now willingly pass the custodianship of Pompey to Michael Eisner, his family and Tornante,” said Trust chairman Ashley Brown. “It is clear that Michael and his family have caught the Pompey bug, and we hope to see them regularly at Fratton Park.”

Eric Eisner added: “The football club wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the against-the-odds commitment of Pompey supporters who came together and saved this club. This is and will always be your team.”

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