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BY Abu Mubarik, 9:00am April 06, 2023,

Nigerian entrepreneur, Shola Akinlade, is building a football empire

Shola Akinlade. Photo credit: Vanguard Nigeria

Nigerian entrepreneur, Shola Akinlade, is the co-founder of Paystack. He is now expanding his business empire from fintech to sports, following his acquisition of Danish side club, Aarhus Fremad. 

The 38-year-old entrepreneur acquired 55% ownership of the Danish side club, but the purchase figure has not yet been disclosed. The club is currently on top of Denmark’s second-division league and is likely to secure promotion to the country’s second-tier league.

“I am truly honored and excited to embark on this new chapter with Aarhus Fremad and further our shared commitment to engaging and empowering local communities,” Akinlade said about the acquisition.

“By strengthening the relationship between Sporting Lagos and Aarhus Fremad, we aim to create an environment that fosters education, growth, and opportunity for our players and the community at large. I have the utmost confidence in Lars Kruse’s continued leadership as CEO, and together, we will strive to maintain the values and long-term goals that have made these clubs such a cherished part of their respective communities,” he explained.

On his part, Fremad CEO, Kruse, said “It has been an exciting process, from when I first heard that they had spotted us in Fremad all the way from Nigeria to where we are standing now. 

“It is fantastic that there are people with the right mindset who see football as a catalyst for many other things – and in terms of values, Sporting Lagos is a Nigerian Aarhus Fremad. In practical terms, the agreement means that we can have a much larger perspective in Fremad, as well as an international dimension to work with.”

Acquiring a football club is not Akinlade’s first feat. He is also the owner of Sporting Lagos, which is based in Nigeria’s commercial state, Lagos. According to Business Insider, the acquisition of Aarhus Fremad gives him the opportunity to create a top-tier academy at Sporting Lagos.

Additionally, the move allows him to create opportunities for young Nigerian talents to ply their trade in Europe, particularly in the Danish League. Akinlade also stands a chance to make millions of euros in the transfer and sale of players, from grooming Sporting Lagos players to major European clubs in Belgium, Netherlands, or Turkey.

He seeks to replicate the success of European clubs like FC Nordsjælland, who established an academy in Ghana to groom talents and transfer them to interested clubs in Europe. One such that readily comes to mind is Ajax midfielder, Mohammed Kudus. He was transferred from FC Nordsjaelland to Ajax Amsterdam in 2020 for $10 million.

Akinlade co-founded Paystack, a financial technology company in 2015. However, the company was later sold for $200m (£162m).

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 6, 2023


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