Jordan’s Al-Qadi family, the business tycoons and founders of the Arab Jordan Investment Bank (AJIB), has bought a 92 stake in England’s Bristol Rovers soccer club for an undisclosed sum.
The new president of the 133-year-old, Division Two club will be Wael Al-Qadi, who is also AJIB’s assistant general manager and a member of the Jordan Football Association. “We invested in this club because they have huge potential to become a very big club,” he told Venture following the announcement. “They have a loyal fan base … the heritage of the club, it’s deep traditional, being a family football club that was founded in 1883. All these ingredients add up to their huge potential.”
Even though they’re tipped for promotion this season, Bristol Rovers have been struggling to pay off seven-figure debts and are locked in a long running dispute with a nationwide supermarket chain over the plans to build a new 22,000-seater stadium. Al-Qadi said they would absorb the debts as part of the buy-out. He also said there was a plan to reshuffle the team.
“They’re in league two, which is the bottom of the professional league, so the only way to go is up, this is where we come in to try and improve the players,” Al-Qadi said. “By recruiting players and improving the academy to make it produce good players to feed into the team … We are going to do some reshuffling … We are going to equip the club with the right people and restructure the club properly so that it functions better.”
He also said part of his plans was to provide Jordanian and even Arab players with a chance to develop their football skills. “This is very positive for Jordan because this vehicle can be used for Jordanian boys to improve and become professional players as well.”
Wael Al-Qadi isn’t the only wealthy Jordanian to have shown an interest in investing in English soccer. Last year, Jordanian real estate billionaire Hasan Ismaik, who already owns Germany side 1860 Munich, also reportedly expressed an interest in buying a top-flight Premier League team.