Who is the rumoured Ipswich Town bidder Brett Johnson?
Marcus Evans is rumoured to be poised to sell Ipswich Town Football Club to American investors – but who is leading man Brett Johnson?
Rumours regarding a US takeover of the club have been spreading across social media in recent weeks, although it has been reported a group of investors – led by Mr Johnson – are now on the verge of purchasing the club.
According to The Athletic, the deal would see Marcus Evans sell the club for £17.5million.
Who is Brett Johnson?
A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Business School, Mr Johnson has built an impressive portfolio of investments across the USA.
The self-confessed Chelsea fan has a background in private equity, media, entertainment and manufacturing – and with it, an apparent love for football.
Mr Johnson is the founder and partner of real estate company Fortuitous Partners, which focuses on investments in sports entertainment, retail, food and hotels.
He is also the CEO of alternative investment firm Benevolent Capital, which is focused on “investing in well-managed businesses and unique real estate properties”.
Aside from football, the company holds investments in “Michelin-quality” coffee company Coco Safar, international social enterprise TerraCycle, crowdfunding business GVNG and digital streaming service Bingeable Network.
It is understood he previously lived in the UK while working as managing director of mobile computing company Targus EMEA.
What about in football?
In football, Mr Johnson is co-chairman of MLS-seeking side Phoenix Rising FC, a member of the USL Championship which was formerly in control of lower league side, Tucson FC.
At the time of becoming co-chairman and president of Phoenix Rising in 2015 – then known as Arizona United – his first significant appointment was to hire former Ipswich star Frank Yallop as manager.
Later, investors to join his team included American DJ Diplo and Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz, while former player Didier Drogba also owns a minority stake in the club – who introduced him to Chelsea.
Earlier this month it was announced Phoenix Rising would transfer its ownership of USL League One team FC Tucson to Benevolent Sports Tucson – a subsidiary of Mr Johnson’s business Benevolent Capital.
Elsewhere, he is the principal owner of a USL Championship franchise due to launch in Rhode Island in 2023.
The club’s future stadium, in Pawtucket, is one of the centre pieces of a $284million project by Fortuitous Partners.
In July last year, a company called Gamechanger 20 Ltd was registered at Companies House with Johnson among the directors, along with Mike O’Leary, who was part of the takeover at Oxford United in 2014 (which was led by Mark Ashton).
Does he have any links abroad?
Outside of America, he is also a director of Danish 1st Division side FC Helsingor as of 2019, following a takeover deal with fellow US investors which include Swansea City minority investor Jordan Gardner. The consortium also includes minority investors from the Golden State Warriors Basketball Team.
Phoenix Rising also has a partnership with Galatasaray, with club governor Berke Bakay being a Turkish native and a big fan of the Super Lig club. The partnership is hoped to give American players a chance to develop in European football.
Attempts have been made to contact Mr Johnson and his companies for comment.
Brett Johnson, centre right, with Phoenix Rising and MLS officials in 2018. – Credit: Phoenix Rising FC