Nigerian entrepreneur and Paystack co-founder, Shola Akinlade, has set his sights on building a football empire that could potentially revolutionise talent development in Africa. Akinlade’s recent acquisition of Danish club, Aarhus Fremad, is a strategic move in this grand plan. With this ambitious vision, Akinlade aims to elevate Nigerian football and provide opportunities for young players across the continent to reach the highest levels of the sport.
Shola Akinlade is no stranger to successful business ventures. As the co-founder of Paystack, he led the Nigerian fintech startup to a $200 million acquisition by Stripe in 2020. Now, Akinlade is turning his attention to the football world, with his recent acquisition of Aarhus Fremad being a key move in his ambitious plan to build a football empire.
Akinlade’s acquisition of a 55% stake in Aarhus Fremad represents a smart business move. The partnership between his own Nigerian team, Sporting Lagos, and Aarhus Fremad will allow him to establish a “top-tier academy” at Sporting Lagos. This would enable him to identify and develop young players with potential and send the best players to Aarhus Fremad to gain valuable experience playing in the Danish leagues.
This approach creates a win-win situation for both clubs. Aarhus Fremad gets access to a pool of talented African players, while Sporting Lagos can provide its players with a clear pathway to reach the highest levels of European football. From a financial perspective, Akinlade can potentially earn millions of euros in transfer fees by grooming players at Sporting Lagos and selling them to clubs in Belgium, Netherlands, or Turkey. Both Sporting Lagos and Aarhus Fremad would be entitled to a share of those fees under FIFA rules.
The success of this business model has been demonstrated by other European clubs like FC Nordsjælland, who established an academy in Ghana to discover young African talent. The transfer of Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus from FC Nordsjaelland to Ajax Amsterdam in 2020, as reported by BBC Sports, highlighted the unique ties that the Danish club has with African football. Ajax reportedly paid around $10 million for 19-year-old Kudus, providing a significant financial boost for the Danish club. With his acquisition of Aarhus Fremad, Akinlade could potentially replicate this success on a larger scale.
Speaking on the acquisition, Akinlade said his investment in the Danish club is due to a “shared commitment to engaging and empowering local communities”. He added that the partnership between Sporting Lagos and Fremad would “create an environment that fosters education, growth, and opportunity for our players and the community at large”. “I am truly honoured and excited to embark on this new chapter with Aarhus Fremad and further our shared commitment to engaging and empowering local communities,” the Paystack CEO said.
With his astute business sense and passion for football, Shola Akinlade is poised to make a significant impact on the sport in Africa. His acquisition of Aarhus Fremad represents a savvy investment that could help to revolutionise football talent development on the continent. As Akinlade’s football empire continues to grow, the future looks bright for African football.
Source: Business Insider Africa