Los Angeles - Former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner is in talks to acquire Portsmouth Football Club, a soccer team that plays in England’s fourth division.
His firm, Tornante, has a window of 70 days in which to negotiate without interference from other parties, the club said in a statement Thursday. During that time, Eisner can review the club’s financial information and put together an offer.
Acquiring Portsmouth would be a rare foray into a lower-tier soccer league for a wealthy foreign investor. A mix of Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs have long been members of an elite group of owners in the Premier League, soccer’s richest domestic competition and home of Manchester United and Chelsea Football Club.
Eisner, 75, served as Disney CEO for 21 years, during which time the company acquired ABC and ESPN as well as a controlling stake in the Anaheim Angels baseball team. Disney also created the Anaheim Mighty Ducks hockey team.
Since leaving Disney, Eisner has run the Tornante investment firm, which owns the digital video studio Vuguru and produces the Netflix animated series “BoJack Horseman.”
Portsmouth has been owned by its fans after financial woes led to the team entering bankruptcy protection. Eisner will have to convince them that he’ll be a good custodian for a team that played in the elite Premier League as recently as 2010.
Pompey, as the team is affectionately called by its supporters, is currently third in England’s fourth-tier league, four points inside the automatic promotion places, with eight games remaining this season. Eisner will require cash and patience if the team is to return to its former glories.
Eisner declined to comment beyond a message he posted on Twitter: “Exciting times! Looking forward to coming over and meeting you all. Good luck against Newport County on Saturday!!”