SUNDERLAND, England (AP) — The purchase of third-tier English club Sunderland was completed Thursday by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, whose family previously owned French team Marseille.
Louis-Dreyfus, who is in his early 20s, takes a controlling interest of a club whose 10-year stay in the Premier League ended in 2017. It also was the subject of a Netflix series — “Sunderland ’Til I Die” — that documented its recent tumble down the divisions.
“Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Sunderland’s history,” said Louis-Dreyfus, who will be the club’s chairman, “and although the current landscape facing football dictates that there are challenges to overcome, I am confident that together we can weather the present storm and put solid foundations in place to bring sustainable and long-term success to the club.”
The takeover was finalized after getting approval from the English Football League. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but former owner Stewart Donald said in a statement that the club is “debt-free,” having been “nearly 200 million pounds ($280 million) in debt” when he bought it from American businessman Ellis Short in 2018.
Donald is one of three people retaining a minority shareholding in Sunderland as part of the deal.
Louis-Dreyfus’ family founded the Swiss-based Louis-Dreyfus Group in the 19th century and owned Marseille for almost 20 years before selling the club in 2016.
Robert Louis-Dreyfus, Kyril’s father, was Marseille’s majority owner for more than a decade until his death in 2009. Kyril’s mother, billionaire businesswoman Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, sold the club to American businessman Frank McCourt in 2016.
Sunderland is in seventh place in the 24-team League One, one point off the playoff spots after 27 of 46 games.
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