Sportech proposes sale of The Football Pools

The pools began in 1923, when Littlewoods started selling betting coupons outside Old Trafford, the Manchester United football ground.

On Tuesday, Sportech announced that it had entered into an exclusivity deal with venture capital firm Burlywood Capital, which is seeking to acquire The Football Pools business for a total cash consideration of £97.25m.

Owner Sportech wants to sell the betting firm, founded 93 years ago, and focus on its United States business.

The fund led by Mark Blandford and Andrew Burnett will raise the acquisition capital by offering new company equity to institutional investors and securing an approved £30 million debt facility.

Sportech's board will forward Burlywood proposal to investors, stating that the offer represented "an attractive opportunity to realise the value of The Football Pools", following its product revamp.

Sportech digitised the pools after buying all three brands between 2000 and 2007. Sportech, which bought up the businesses and rebranded them, has since set about overhauling the game for the digital age.

Managing director Conleth Byrne and finance director Carl Lynn will become the new company's chief executive and chief financial officer.

Around 300,000 players stake their cash each week in the hope of winning a maximum £3 million.

Neverthless, Sportech said that operating profit for the Liverpool-based Pools came in at £7 million for the first half of the year.

About 10 million people were playing the pools each week before the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, which hit the game hard.

  • Anthony Vega