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American investors join together to buy a minority share in a Danish football club


A little over a year and a half ago, some American friends, neighbors and co-workers got together for a special investment opportunity.


To buy a share in a European soccer team.

INSKEEP: Yeah. They had this idea, they spread it, and the group bought a portion of a club in Denmark. They invested between 10,000 and $30,000 apiece.

MARTIN: Now those investors show up at odd hours to support the Danish team from a Brooklyn bar.

SEAN NAUGHTON: You know, if you've never gone to see a football match at a bar and had a couple of beers before 9 a.m., (laughter) you've never lived.

INSKEEP: I guess I've never lived. That's Sean Naughton, one of the team's owners.

MARTIN: The team is known as AB. That is short for...

NAUGHTON: Akademisk Boldklub.

INSKEEP: Joe Gordon is a sales consultant and another of the team's co-owners. He and Naughton just returned from Copenhagen, where they met with the team and also got a glimpse of just how much the Danes love soccer.

JOE GORDON: It is the No. 1 sport in the country, for sure. I'm pretty passionate, but it's a different level. It just means so much, and so we take that responsibility as stewards of the club pretty seriously.

MARTIN: Gordon says it's not about seeking a quick return on investment, but rather restoring this once-great team to...

INSKEEP: Well, how's the team actually doing?

NAUGHTON: The results have been a bit disappointing. There's a new coach, a new crop of players, and it's going to take time.

MARTIN: And while Naughton might be calling for more time, the team's fans are expressing something else.

GORDON: Yeah, the fans are impatient. And that's a good thing because they're passionate. They care. If they weren't impatient, they weren't being vocal about their impatience, there'd be a different problem and a worse problem.

INSKEEP: So dealing with the fans can be tough, but Naughton says there are some perks.

MARTIN: Like a smorgasbord? Is that a thing - smorgasbord?

INSKEEP: (Laughter) You're hinting...

MARTIN: Is that a thing?

INSKEEP: ...Danishes (laughter)? They did get family access to AB's training academy in Copenhagen.

NAUGHTON: My teenage son was fortunate enough to go over and train with the academy for a week with another investor's son. You know, it's not just being a monetary investment. It's all the things that come along with it.

MARTIN: And Gordon says his own enthusiasm did rub off on his wife eventually.

GORDON: As odd as it might have seemed to her at first, she saw how much enjoyment and fulfillment I was getting from it.

INSKEEP: The new owners say buying in Denmark has also provided them with an opportunity to look at the world a little differently.

GORDON: We talk about American individualism, and Scandinavia and Denmark is collectivist society. And so these are a bunch of individual Americans that wanted to be involved in a collective, and that's really exciting for me.

MARTIN: Oh, so maybe there's more in the future than just cheering with friends at 9 a.m.


MARTIN: Well, Steve, you know what?


MARTIN: You and I both have kids in college, so we don't have a lot of spare cash lying around. But I'm just wondering. I would kind of like to buy a soccer team. Would you help me buy a soccer team?

INSKEEP: What if we go for women's basketball because I think, you know, we're riding a wave, and we could buy a women's basketball - a share in a women's basketball team?

MARTIN: We could, but I would like to have a soccer team.

INSKEEP: OK, fine.

MARTIN: Would you help me...

INSKEEP: Fine. Yes.

MARTIN: ...As my friend buy...


MARTIN: ...A soccer team?


MARTIN: I would...


MARTIN: ...Like to have one.

INSKEEP: Because I am your friend, I'm there for you.

MARTIN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Five bucks?

MARTIN: What would you like me to buy for you?

INSKEEP: (Laughter) A good return on my investment in the soccer team.


INSKEEP: Manage that team well, please.

MARTIN: Fair. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Devan Schwartz
Devan Schwartz is an editor for NPR's Morning Edition. He is an experienced audio professional who, in addition to his work with NPR, has worked with such organizations as BBC, Slate, the New York Times, and various public radio stations.