Chicago firm buys stake in tiny English soccer club

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AFC Bournemouth defender Simon Francis (left) is shown during an English Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth last month. | Ian Kington/AFP photo

Chicago has the Bears, the Bulls and now … the Cherries.

Chicago investment firm PEAK6 has bought a 25-percent stake in one of the minnows of England’s Premier League, AFC Bournemouth. The soccer team, which has lost it last four league games by a combined 13 to 2 score, averages about 11,000 spectators in its tiny Vitality Stadium on England’s south coast. At the other end of the scale, Manchester United’s Old Trafford seats about 76,000.

In a statement posted on Bournemouth’s official website, PEAK6 co-founder and CEO Matt Hulsizer struck an optimistic tone.

“I am excited and honored to partner with [Bournemouth owner Maxim Demin] and AFC Bournemouth,” Hulsizer said. “I was introduced to the club over two seasons ago and since then I have followed the club’s progress and seen the tremendous accomplishments in that time. With Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall managing the team, I am confident that we can establish ourselves in the top flight.”

No news on how much PEAK6 paid for its stake. Calls to PEAK6 were not immediately returned.

Bournemouth currently sit third from the bottom of the Premier League. If they don’t start winning games, they may end up dropping into the lower Championship league.

Bournemouth fans are no doubt hoping an influx of cash will allow the team to bring in some new players to avoid the dreaded “relegation” to the lower league.

But if Hulsizer, who also owns a stake in the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild, tires of watching the Cherries, he might take a stroll through this coastal town famous for its golden sands and some of the priciest real estate on the planet.

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