Euro 2012 draws first soccer club to Warsaw Bourse

11:25, 04 December 2008
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The shares start trade today

Ruch Chorzow SA, a Polish soccer club with a budget about 1 percent of Arsenal’s and a stadium where 90 percent of the seats aren’t covered by a roof, will become the first central European team to start trading on a stock exchange.

The 14-time champion of Poland, based in the southern city of Chorzow, sold new shares in a private placement in September, raising 1.81 million zloty ($597,500) for an 11 percent stake, and will spend most of the cash on new players. The shares start trade today on Warsaw’s NewConnect market for smaller companies.

Ruch, which isn’t related to kiosk operator Ruch SA, forecasts net income will grow to 1.74 million zloty in 2012 from 233,681 zloty today. It’s banking on the European soccer championships, which Poland hosts with neighboring Ukraine that year, to boost interest in the game.

“Neither the financial crisis nor the controversy swirling around Polish soccer could stop us,” Chief Executive Officer Katarzyna Sobstyl said in a statement distributed before a news conference in Warsaw today.

Last month Poland almost forfeited its World Cup qualifying matches, after an arbitration court suspended the management of the football association for not doing enough to fight match- fixing scandals in which more than 100 people have been charged.

“Any move like Ruch’s is a step in the right direction” for Polish soccer because it will raise transparency and improve the league’s image, Jacek Bochenek, head of Deloitte’s operations related to the championship, said by phone yesterday.

Sales Growth

Polish soccer clubs had sales of 63 million euros ($79.6 million) last season, up 47 percent from a year earlier, according to figures from Deloitte cited in Ruch’s prospectus, and Bochenek says they could top 200 million euros. That compares with 2.3 billion euros for England’s Premier League, and accounts for 0.5 percent of the European total.

Ruch, now seventh in Poland’s 16-team first division, plans to win the championship again as early as in 2011, by which time it could more than double its revenue from 2007, to 16.5 million zloty. Sales may reach 10.1 million zloty in 2008, about 1 percent of Arsenal Holdings Plc’s 223 million pounds ($328.5 million), according to the prospectus.

Average turnout this season at Ruch’s 10,000-seat stadium is 8,407 supporters, compared with a Polish league average of 6,741 and 75,691 at Manchester United.

Chorzow, like FC Barcelona, displays a charitable foundation’s logo on its uniforms, forgoing revenue from a corporate sponsor.

“We do it because we want to make the game more friendly to potential new supporters, such as families,” Marzena Mrozik, Ruch’s marketing director, said by phone yesterday.

Bloomberg

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