It all started a couple of days ago when we heard rumours that some very 'VIP' guests were going to be at Goodison Park on Saturday to watch Everton take on Manchester United. Apparently these visitors were from 'Kansas', and were going to be there in person for takeover discussions. With the Annual General Meeting coming up soon, the timing was very interesting. We've been here before and nothing came out of it.
Then one very curious Blues fan tweeted a certain Robb Heineman if he was visiting Everton on Saturday, who then proceeded to retweet that. Still no big deal, right? After all, the Everton USA fan group just had a great trip to Goodison not so long ago.
It turns out though Mr. Heineman is one of the owners of Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City, and his consortium Sporting Club consists of five principals heavily involved in multiple sports team ventures -
- Neal Patterson (CEO and co-founder of the Cerner Corporation)
- Clifford Illig (co-founder and vice-chairman of the Cerner board)
- Pat Curran (founder of C3 Holdings)
- Greg Maday (CEO of SpecChem, Founding Partner at Rock Island Capital LLC)
- Robb Heineman (CEO of Sporting Club, Founding Partner at Rock Island Capital LLC)
Now things are getting warmer. Robb Heineman is 41, and has fully embraced fan engagement as a concept to behold. Sporting regularly sells out its matches, with over 50 straight sellouts as of March 2015. The club has 14,000 season-ticket holders, and a further 3,000 wait listed. SKC has a relatively young fan base, the average age of season-ticket holders being 29.7 years.
The team was started in 1996 as the Kansas City Wizards (aka Wiz) by the Hunt family, who also own the NFL franchise Kansas City Chiefs. Among the star players in the early years was a name that Everton fans can instantly recognize - Preki.
The club was sold in 2006 to the Sporting Club group named above, and are widely considered one of the up and coming MLS franchises and have had some recent success in the American game after their rebranding as Sporting Kansas City in 2011.
MLS Supporters' Shield (equivalent of Premier League title)
Runners Up: 1997, 2004, 2012, 2013
MLS Cup (winner of post-league playoffs)
Winners: 2000, 2013
Runners Up: 2004
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (equivalent of FA Cup)
Winners: 2004, 2012, 2015
Everton under chairman Bill Kenwright is one of the few Premier League clubs, along with Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, having primary English ownership.
With additional rumours of Kenwright's health issues, it would be safe to assume that a sale would happen sooner than later. Also, the Walton Hall Park project surely would be back on the table should the club be bought. Little else is known publicly about the Sporting Club board's aspirations, but we await with bated breath for Saturday to see if any of this comes to fruition.