Bournemouth owner Foley granted Auckland A-League license
The A-League today announced the awarding of an expansion football club in Auckland, New Zealand, to Bill Foley. The transaction has received the necessary approvals, including A-Leagues Board and Unitholder approval and approvals from Football Australia and New Zealand Football, the governing bodies of association football in those countries.
A businessman and philanthropist, Foley has an extensive background in football and other sports including tremendous success as the founder and owner of the National Hockey League’s 2023 Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights, which began as an expansion team just seven years ago. In global football, Foley is the founder and general partner of Black Knight Football Club, which owns AFC Bournemouth of the Premier League and has a significant investment in FC Lorient of France’s Ligue 1.
In addition, Foley has deep ties to New Zealand including a luxury lodge in Palliser Bay (Wharekauhau Country Estate), several wineries (including Vavasour, Mt Difficulty, Te Kairanga, Martinborough Vineyard and Grove Mill) and a restaurant group (which includes the iconic Soul Bar & Bistro in Auckland and Jervois Steak House in Auckland and Queenstown). Foley Wines is a public company listed on the New Zealand stock exchange and produces almost 600,000 cases of wine annually domestically and internationally. Foley made his first investments in New Zealand in 2008 and his companies currently employ more than 500 Kiwis across the country.
It’s an honour to bring a top football club to Auckland,” Foley said. Building a championship team from expansion has been my most exhilarating professional achievement, and I aim to do the same for the fans of New Zealand and particularly the community in the Northern region. It’s a special place and an area that I know will embrace this team.”
Supporters who would like to receive updates on the new club the official name of which will be announced at a future date can visit AKLfootball24.com and subscribe to its email newsletter on the site. The club will field a men’s team beginning in the 2024-25 season and a women’s team in the following year. Supporters can also follow along on the latest news on the club’s official social channels (@AKLFootball24 on both Instagram and X).
The Honorable Stephen Conroy, Chair of the Australian Professional Leagues, welcomed Foley and the new club.
In Bill Foley we have a proven global sports investor and operator with a track record of building deep roots in the community, a passion for football, and a long-standing business and personal relationship with New Zealand,” Conroy said. We are delighted to welcome Bill and his team to the A-Leagues and look forward to seeing the club in action next year.”
Foley will bring his Always Advance, Never Retreat” approach to Auckland, which features a community-based focus on football development and capitalizes on the benefits of Foley’s multi-club model. The new club is committed to working with existing football organizations in the area to grow the game at all levels, and amongst all people, in the Northern region. The multi-club model will bring talent to the new Auckland club and foster an environment where kiwis can progress to the highest levels of international football.
In addition to financing the new club Foley has committed to provide the investment and resources necessary to quickly build a competitive environment, with a long-term vision that sets the club up for sustained excellence. That includes a commitment to the player experience and player development as well as the supporter experience at matches.
Foley has hired Auckland native Nick Becker as the new club’s Chief Executive Officer, leading the business endeavors, and will announce football leadership in the near future.
Becker is an international sports executive with more than two decades of major event, entertainment and marketing experience across large-scale iconic global sports groups and brands including Manchester City FC, Melbourne City FC, Arsenal FC, Telefonica o2UK, Nike and Puma. He joins the new club from a successful consultancy business with clients across sports, agencies and tech start ups. Before that, Nick led Marketing and Operations for Melbourne City FC, having joined the A-Leagues in 2015 from Manchester City in the Premier League, where he led the transformation of the game-day marketing, content, commercial and event experience.
The Auckland club is Foley’s latest endeavor in sports, where he has quickly built a track record of success. The Golden Knights debuted in 2017-18 with the most successful season for an expansion franchise in any sport and won the Stanley Cup in 2023. The first major league professional team in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights have enjoyed perennial on- and off-ice success and spawned growth in Vegas as a professional sports hub and an exploding youth hockey market.
The success of the Golden Knights led Foley to acquire the Henderson Silver Knights of the American Hockey League and the Vegas Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League, while his ownership group partnered with the National Basketball Association to operate the NBA G League Ignite. Foley has also led the construction of multiple sports venues and training facilities in the Las Vegas Valley, including The Dollar Loan Center, City National Arena and America First Center.
Foley ventured into football in 2022 with the founding of Black Knight Football Club (BKFC) and acquisition of AFC Bournemouth (AFCB) of the Premier League, the first acquisition in BKFC’s broader multi-club strategy. Foley’s financial support and leadership lifted AFCB from potential relegation and secured its place in the Premier League for the current season. Foley and BKFC have also acquired a significant minority share of FC Lorient in France’s Ligue 1.
Outside of sports, Foley has successfully founded, grown and operated numerous ventures in the financial sector, hospitality and vineyards. Foley’s philanthropic efforts include the Folded Flag Foundation, the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation and the Foley Family Charitable Foundation, all of which are committed to giving back to the community. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point who also holds a Master’s in Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees, Foley received West Point’s Distinguished Graduate Award in 2016.