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Mercia leads £3m funding round for Soccer Manager
Soccer Manager – the UK-based online soccer management game – has secured a further £3m to support its continued growth in a funding round led by its existing investor Mercia.
The latest investment, which comes from Mercia’s own funds, the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and the Government’s Future Fund, will allow it to grow its user base in the Middle East and Far East through local language translations, further develop its SM 2022 game which is due to launch this autumn, and relaunch its original multi-player game, SM World, by creating new apps and adding new features.
Soccer Manager has grown revenue by over 80% since the launch of ‘Soccer Manager 2021’ in September last year. Its games are now played in 234 countries around the world and have been downloaded by more than 50 million players, attracting more than one million active users each month.
Founded in Preston in 2004 by soccer-loving brothers, Andy, Chris and Steven Gore, the company employs over 40 staff. Soccer Manager is a good example of Mercia’s Complete Connected Capital model. It was first backed with a loan from one of Mercia’s managed debt funds in December 2013, then received investment from Mercia’s EIS funds in December 2014 and received its first direct investment from Mercia’s proprietary capital in March 2015. Mercia now holds a fully diluted direct investment stake of 39.0% with a further 7.6% held by Mercia’s managed EIS funds.
Andy Gore, CEO of Soccer Manager, said “We founded Soccer Manager with a vision to create high-quality football games that the whole world could play. We have always had the view that football, mobile and the internet is a powerful combination to achieve this vision. After years of building out our IP, technology, and games to millions of people worldwide, this investment will add significant fuel to our current growth trajectory and ambitions. We are delighted to have Mercia as a partner that continues to share our vision and we look forward to the next stage of our journey together.”
Julian Viggars, CIO of Mercia Asset Management, said: “The video gaming market was estimated to be worth $159.3billion in 20201, which is a considerable increase of c.9% from 2019, in part due to the changes in the leisure time spend we have seen following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soccer Manager is a great example of an innovative, regional business, which, with the determination of its founders, has scaled its recurring customer base and revenues to achieve high-quality games with a very loyal community. The business was already on a strong growth trajectory before the pandemic, but with the increasing numbers of ‘at home gamers’ not expected to slow down, we anticipate that there is further significant potential in this asset.”
Ken Cooper, Managing Director at British Business Bank, said: “The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund continues to provide vital funding to innovative businesses across the region. We are working with Mercia and our other appointed fund managers to make a real impact on business communities, creating jobs and supporting innovation by providing access to funding and unlocking the North’s potential.”
Yorkshire accountants and business advisers Garbutt + Elliott provided fundraising advice to Soccer Manager.
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.