Who are 5USport? A beginner's guide to Northampton Town's new joint owners

5U Sport's CEO Tom Auyeung said Northampton Town 'ticked all the right boxes'.
5U Sport's CEO Tom Auyeung said Northampton Town 'ticked all the right boxes'.
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After yesterday's sensational news that a Chinese company had bought a 45 per cent overall stake in the Cobblers, we take a glimpse at Kelvin Thomas's new business partners.

Until yesterday, very few people outside of the footballing fraternity would have heard of 5USport.

The firm has promised to leave Kelvin Thomas in charge of the club's day-to-day running.

The firm has promised to leave Kelvin Thomas in charge of the club's day-to-day running.

But the firm is now the majority shareholder at Sixfields, promising to allow current chairman Kelvin Thomas the freedom to run the Sixfields club with them as his substantial, yet silent, investor.

The firm was founded in 2008 in Guangzhou, an enormous port city north-west of Hong Kong with twice the population of London.

From translated versions of the company's website it appears 5USport has undergone rapid expansion with offices in Hong Kong, the UK, Spain and Brazil, largely carrying out marketing and content services for the sports channel Eurosport and operating as the Chinese distribution partner for memorabilia monolith Icons.com.

The worldwide brand sells signed goods from the world's top footballers and boasts the likes of Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney among their roster of famous names willing to autograph a range of gift items.

The new Bournemouth? Could Northampton's partnership with 5USport be a ticket to the Premier League.

The new Bournemouth? Could Northampton's partnership with 5USport be a ticket to the Premier League.

Some equally dense phrasing in the footnotes of a Cobblers' press statement describes 5Usport as having devoted itself to developing IP (intellectual property) resources 'intensively' both at home and abroad for years.

But with its worldwide credentials, some would ask why the company chose to buy a stake in a League One football club based in the south-east midlands.

The firm now owns 45 per cent of the overall shares in the Cobblers (buying 60 per cent of Kelvin Thomas and his investors' 75 per cent share, if that makes sense).

Chief executive of 5USport, Tom Auyeung, said no other club "ticked as many boxes" as the Cobblers, and confirmed he was not looking to make any changes to staffing at the club.

Auyeung says he is impressed by its "really strong fan base", and promised that 5USport would "make an impact behind the scenes with the right strategic direction and investment".

Speaking to the Guardian Kelvin Thomas said the share purchase would not only put Northampton Town on the map here in the UK, but in China too.

"A lot of it is going to be about using the education opportunities over there and using Northampton Town FC as a brand to sell services into the education facilities,” Thomas told the newspaper, before going on to reveal 34-year-old striker Marc Richards' image could be plastered 'on the side of a building' in China.

So will 5USport take up the poisoned chalice of funding an entire stadium expansion at Sixfields? Will they still be as amenable if Cobblers suffer a dip in form?

Time will tell.

Not since basketball star Shaquille O' Neal donned a Cobblers shirt to sing 'We are the Champions' has Northampton Town received so much attention from overseas.