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Philadelphia Union officially announces addition to ownership group

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Richard Leibovitch was revealed today as new investor in Keystone Sports and Entertainment

MLS: New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Sugarman, the owner of the Philadelphia Union, revealed today that another investor has been added to the ownership group of the Philadelphia Union.

New York-based real estate investor Richard Leibovitch has purchased a non-majority share of the Philadelphia Union from another unnamed owner. Leibovitch is the founder of Arel Captial, a real estate investment firm, and has ties to Philadelphia through his wife’s family.

In the official press release by the Philadelphia Union, Jay Sugarman welcomed Leibovitch to the Union and to MLS Soccer. Leibovitch was quoted, saying:

This was a unique opportunity to become part of the Union ownership and to join with Jay and the other owners in building on the strong foundations that have been put in place. Having had a chance to study the league and the club for several months, I am convinced the Union are very well positioned for success, and I hope to play my part in helping us achieve our ambitious goals.

In addition to the investment from Leibovitch, current minority owner Richie Graham also increased his stake in the Union. Graham and his family, who own the YSC Sports complex, have increased their investment in the Union’s successful youth academy. Graham was quoted by the press release as saying:

We’re excited to step up our investment in Major League Soccer.

I want to thank Jay Sugarman and the rest of the ownership group for the opportunity to further my commitment to this organization, to soccer in Philadelphia, and to development of the American player. I wholeheartedly believe in our local talent pool and I am thrilled to be a part of a club that is passionate in seeing a future where the quality of Philadelphia’s homegrown soccer players rivals that of any in the world

The Philadelphia Union youth academy has shown promise for a few years now, with five players being signed to homegrown deals for the first team at the Philadelphia Union in the past two years. Additionally, three of those academy products played in this year’s opening game against the New England Revolution, Derrick Jones, Auston Trusty, and Anthony Fontana.

Sugarman will remain as the majority shareholder in Keystone Sports and Entertainment, the entity that owns the Union, and will still remain in charge of the ownership group for the foreseeable future. It’s unknown at this point if this is simply a case of adding another investor to increase the capital invested into the club or if this deal is meant as a first step towards selling the Union to another owner altogether.

For now, though, some of the faces may have changed, but the operation will likely remain the same, for better or worse. Sugarman has said he’s increased investment and has made more money available to Earnie Stewart in order to add quality to the roster. We’ll see if that has impact on results in the next few weeks.