Premier League owner confirmed as preferred bidder for A-Leagues expansion licence in Auckland

The APL has confirmed its preferred bidder for a new A-Leagues expansion side in Auckland which, if approved, would include both Isuzu UTE A-League Men and Liberty A-League Women’s teams from season 2024-25.

William P. Foley, II, who is also the general partner of the global multi club football operator Black Knight Football Club, has been identified as ‘preferred bidder’ for the A-Leagues expansion licence in the Auckland market, incorporating both an Isuzu UTE A-League Men and a Liberty A-League Women’s team in season 2024-25.

Licence approval is subject to successful completion of the necessary regulatory processes and approvals to be undertaken by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) and Football Australia (FA).  Once approved by Football Australia, it will work with its regional governing body, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and partners Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), New Zealand Football (NZF) for endorsement.

Mr. Foley is a US-based owner of multiple sports teams and he has strong business connections to New Zealand.  Mr. Foley is the general partner of Black Knight Football Club, which owns 100% of AFC Bournemouth of the English Premier League and a significant minority ownership interest in FC Lorient of France’s Ligue 1.  Mr. Foley is also the owner of other sports and entertainment assets including the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, which was an expansion team in 2017 and won the Stanley Cup in 2023. 

Mr. Foley also owns multiple businesses in New Zealand including Foley Wines Ltd, a public company listed on the NZ stock exchange consisting of 5 wineries in Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago, a restaurant group with venues in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown including the iconic SOUL bar in Auckland as well as the luxury lodge Wharekauhau on the South Wairarapa Coast.

Additionally, Mr. Foley oversees multiple public companies in the US including the Founder and Chairman of Fidelity National Financial, Inc.; Chairman of Alight, Inc; and Chairman of Cannae Holdings, Inc..

Nick Garcia, Commissioner of the A-Leagues said: “The awarding of Preferred Bidder Status is an important forward step towards new professional women’s and men’s teams in Auckland.

“Bill Foley and Black Knight Football Club are committed sports investors and bring direct elite football experience via their investment in AFC Bournemouth in the English Premier League and other European clubs. Importantly, Bill is passionate about Auckland and has a long-term relationship with New Zealand through his business interests.

“Auckland has been the largest city in Australia and New Zealand without a professional football team, despite football being the most popular team participation sport nationally in New Zealand. We look forward to building on the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, providing football fans in Auckland with their new home team.”

Bill Foley said: “My family and I have a genuine appreciation and love for New Zealand. We will look to strengthen this connection even further by acquiring an A-Leagues expansion license in Auckland, which will allow us to establish both a men’s and women’s club in the city.

“Black Knight Football Club operates with a commitment to excellence on and off the pitch. Our goal will be to build a winning organization while simultaneously serving the community and growing the sport – and passion for the sport – at all levels. We are extremely excited to reach this stage in the process and look forward to the next steps.”