Kapital Football Group’s Joseph DaGrosa has plans for a soccer network to equal the likes of Manchester City


Kapital Football Group (KFG) Chairman Joseph DaGrosa Junior believes the United States of America is five to 10 years away from being a “huge talent supplier” in world soccer as young athletes switch from sports like baseball, American football and basketball to soccer.

January saw Bryan Reynolds join AS Roma from FC Dallas, Brenden Aaronson as well as Mark McKenzie swaped Philadelphia Union for Red Bull Salzburg and KRC Genk respectively while DeAndre Yedlin was signed by Galatasaray and Paul Arriola followed Jordan Morris to Swansea City.

DaGrosa believes this busy winter transfer window is a sign of things to come over the next decade as playing at Europe’s top level becomes the norm.

“Great talent is coming out of the US,” the 56-year-old told CBS Sports exclusively. “We are probably 5-10 years from really hitting our stride. Double digit growth pre-high school, high school and college has been extraordinary.

“Baseball — demographically — is a dying sport and soccer is less prohibitive than basketball and without the NFL‘s concussion factor. The move towards soccer is natural. When our athletes reach their potential and play at European level, we will be a huge talent supplier.”

DaGrosa now leads KFG’s ambitious vision of a “world-class soccer platform with a proprietary pipeline” in Europe as part of the group’s “ecosystem” that will feature an anchor club, satellite outfits and top youth academies.

KFG, who list American soccer luminaries Landon Donovan and Charlie Stillitano, have secured Bolivia’s Tahuichi Academy as the first of what is hoped to be nine youth setups across the Americas, Africa and Asia and DaGrosa is confident the “Bolivian talent factory” will prove key for the group.

“We think this combination will give us the best global footprint for sourcing talent, said the former Chairman of Girondins de Bordeaux in France’s Ligue 1. “Tahuichi are Bolivia’s number one academy — by far — with 3000 kids in their system. The other thing that attracted us is their social work. They have several Nobel Peace Prize nominations and are very consistent with our values.

“Portugal, Spain and Belgium are natural considerations for satellite clubs,” he added. “Moving a kid from a small town to a big city in a different language is a very delicate issue and this is one of the things I learned in Bordeaux. We want an ecosystem that eases this transition.”

KFG are influenced by the likes of the City Football Group (CFG) and Red Bull’s global network best known for its Leipzig, Salzburg and New York teams and DaGrosa admits CFG, in particular, possess the “strongest platform structure” but sees some COVID-19 differences.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the Yonkers native told CBS exclusively. “We have a high regard for CFG and what they have accomplished. COVID offers an opportunity to do things on a more accelerated basis but for less financially. These are unique times.

“We think there is a short to medium-term opportunity with clubs and players before the pendulum ultimately swings back the other way as it is a great sport and business. We want to put our ‘ecosystem’ in place now to emerge as a major player in the global soccer game when a seller’s market for talent returns.”

European clubs with decades of history are suddenly within reach and KFG have been linked with the likes of English Premier League sides Southampton and Newcastle United in recent months with DaGrosa convinced that the economic impact of COVID has presented a unique opportunity.

“Very few businesses can stand the test of time,” he said. “Almost any soccer club has a multi-generational history. Very few businesses stick around for 100 years or are likely to still be around in another 100.

“Soccer is the fastest growing sport in the world, and we do not believe the business will be rendered obsolete by technological changes. If anything, it will benefit from those changes. Many clubs are struggling and need investment. We are moving as we think we can be good partners.”

UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League soccer is key to major investment in soccer and DaGrosa believes that the only exception is the Premier League due to its relatively even distribution of television rights money.

“The only way to make money is by making it to the UCL,” the KFG chief exclusively told CBS. “If you are not, you are probably breaking even — if you are lucky. If you are not in UEL, you are probably losing money. You do not have to be a top four club to make money in the EPL as it is the largest league in the world and mid-table clubs are particularly interesting — we are looking at some.”

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Nine of 20 EPL clubs now have American ownership or backing but DaGrosa would prefer for KFG to learn from the best functioning soccer business models with CFG’s multi-team and continent approach particularly appealing.

“We want to take the best aspects from all owners, not just Americans — we are looking for best practices and approaches,” he said. “CFG, on balance, is a very attractive model to follow as you do not live or die by the success of one particular team.”

DaGrosa and Hugo Varela took over at Bordeaux in France back in 2018 and learned some of their most valuable lessons in the complicated environment that surrounds a Ligue 1 competition that has suffered severely at the hands of the COVID crisis.

“Bordeaux was interesting,” CBS heard exclusively. “It is more difficult to make US-style HR changes in France and I would also say tax is more challenging than in other markets. You spend more than you otherwise would, and the salary is the starting point but not even close to the finish. We enter the top five market better educated on the pros and cons.

“Pre-COVID, Ligue 1 was not on the same footing as EPL as broadcasting revenue is weighted heavily towards the top. The situation is distressing and Mediapro was the nail in the coffin.

“I still love Bordeaux and am a fan. The last thing that I want is for them to not to succeed. I want French football to succeed. The European soccer ecosystem must succeed. I think we will see major club and league restructuring. A lot of lenders are probably worrying about their collateral.”

Despite DaGrosa’s bittersweet experience at Matmut Atlantique, he is hungrier than ever to get back into European soccer and KFG is primed to soon make a splash with CBS sources indicating that the acquisition of a club in a top five league is close.

When KFG do finally enter the European market, they will have a meticulously planned “ecosystem” featuring the likes of the Tahuichi Academy of Bolivia in tow ready to put into action as they ultimately look to join CFG and Red Bull at the summit of soccer business.





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