RedBird Capital Partners, the US investment firm who took an 11 per cent stake in Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group earlier this year, have been linked with another move to grow their football portfolio.

RedBird, who own French second division side Toulouse through their RedBird FC business, gave FSG a £538m ($750m) capital injection back in March after lengthy negotiations, with the deal seeing basketball star LeBron James convert his two per cent stake in Liverpool that he had held since 2011 to a one per cent holding in FSG's overall operations, that include the Boston Red Sox baseball team and the Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR team.

The capital injection was to be used to help FSG manage a number of projects across their businesses so that they wouldn't be impacted by the financial stresses placed upon them by the pandemic. But a part of the money and the combined expertise has been earmarked to grown the sporting portfolio of FSG, with the firm eyeing sports teams in the US and football teams in Europe, as well as other investments in media and e-sports.

For RedBird, led by billionaire financier Gerry Cardinale, expanding their European football portfolio is very much near the top of their agenda moving forward.

Reports in Spain from regional news website El Periodico de Aragon, have linked the the firm with a potential investment in Spanish second tier side Real Zaragoza.

The Herald of Aragon report that the club is set to change hands imminently, with an investment firm set up by Barcelona-based brothers Alejandro and Carlos Álvarez del Campo, and sports lawyer Francisco Dominguez Otero in the frame to take over at the Estadio La Romareda.

RedBird had reportedly been interested in pursuing investment in Zaragoza, but developments last month for the US firm in Spanish football mean that their intentions now look to be elsewhere unless they make a u-turn.

Cardinale's firm took a small stake in Andalusian side Malaga, with around 600 shares bought for a value of just £15,500 (€18,000). There is a potential longer term vision at play here.

Champions League quarter finalists in 2013, three years after the club was bought by Sheikh Abdullah ben Nasser Al Thani where heavy investment in the playing squad arrived, the years that have followed has seen financial chaos unravel at La Rosaleda, the club unable to sustain their heavy spending and sliding down into the Segunda División by 2018.

Charges were brought against Al Thani in 2020 over his role in the misappropriation of funds, to the tune of around £7m according to reports, with the sale of stakes from smaller shareholders funnelled into the Al Thani family's personal and business accounts.

Those charges saw him removed as president for an initial six months by a Spanish regional court last year, a suspension that has been extended, while the future of the club is determined.

A judicial administrator of the club, José María Muñoz, has been in situ since last year as the legal wrangling between Al Thani and the Blue Bay hotel group, shareholders in Malaga with Al Thani, continues.

Al Thani and Blue Bay faced off in court back in 2019 over a contractual dispute relating to 2013, a time when Malaga were in need of heavy investment to cope with their mounting debts on the back of their pursuit of success.

A judge in 2019 issued that 97 per cent of the club's shares, which were under the control of Al Thani, should be returned to the firm that Al Thani and Blue Bay co-owned, NAS Spain, where the Malaga owner and Blue Bay had a shareholding of 51 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

Al Thani appealed and the legal process has continued, leading to the appointment of a judicial administrator to find a way forward for the beleaguered football club that had boasted talent such as Jeremy Toulalan, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Santi Cazorla during Al Thani's reign.

The issue the administrator has is that with the club heavily in debt, with the pandemic only serving to exacerbate an already bad situation, guarantees are being sought ahead of them competing next season.

For that the club need to raise some capital, and one of the stipulations set out from the administrator was that any capital injection received must come from an individual or business that holds a shareholding at the club and can sit on the board and be present at shareholder meetings.

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That is the reason for the small stake for RedBird at present, with the firm set to inject capital into the business in the coming months to provide them with the guarantees that are needed.

Such a move also positions RedBird well when it comes to try and increase that stake when the time arrives and the legal process is concluded between Al Thani and Blue Bay.

Malaga's share capital is said to be around €17m (£14.6m), with that divided into around 485,000 shares, of which NAS Spain own almost 97 per cent.

According to Spanish media, the capital increase required would be around €30m (£25.8m), meaning that RedBird would be positioned to become the majority shareholder of Malaga should NAS Spain not participate in the capital increase.

But while RedBird have been linked with another Spanish move it would likely be forbidden under UEFA law, with no two clubs able to be under ownership, or have conflicting interests, and compete at the same level. That would mean that RedBird couldn't hold a shareholding in Malaga and also in Real Zaragoza owing to their being a clear conflict that would be in breach of governing body rules.

RedBird's own plans for expanding their footballing portfolio could well align with Liverpool and FSG at some point, whether that be through a simpatico relationship where players are loaned, or whether it be to provide a way to get around the Brexit laws that are now in place that forbid the free movement of those under the age of 18 from outside the UK, something that hampers Liverpool's ability to bring in some of the top talent on the continent, as they have been able to do with the likes of Mateusz Musialowski and Melkamu Frauendorf.

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FSG themselves are looking at adding more clubs.

In the US they are looking at the NBA, NHL and MLS, while they also have an eye on what potential benefits bringing on board another European club would bring, with Germany one market that they are keen on exploring, it is understood.

Multi-club ownership has increased in recent years, with RB Leipzig owners Red Bull and City Football Group, the owners of Manchester City, having a considerable number of clubs across the globe under their umbrella. Leicester City have for a number of years benefited from their owners, King Power, also owing Belgian side OH Leuven.

"One of the things that springs to mind are efficiencies and economies of scale," Daniel Geey, a leading sports lawyer and author of the book 'Done Deal', told the ECHO.

"For example if the group has a very big commercial department then those sports rights properties can be marketed and spread across numerous territories and jurisdictions, and if you have very good brad relationships that obviously helps.

"If you have one centralised entity that takes care of everything, from data to scouting to talent identification, that can have its benefits. All of those central hub issues combined, that can be of major benefit to one entity that is looking acquire clubs in different jurisdictions.

"At the same time it is very hard to do well and that is why a lot of credit has to go to the likes of City Football Group, who obviously have great financial muscle but at the same time need to do things in the right way to benefit from all of those clubs in all of those jurisdictions."