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Sacramento Republic’s MLS hopes boosted after billionaire takes over club

Sacramento Republic FC received a significant boost in its attempts to become a Major League Soccer expansion team after billionaire financier Ron Burkle agreed to buy controlling interest in the USL Championship club.

According to Forbes, Burkle, who is a part-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, is worth an estimated $2bn (€1.8bn). He tried to buy the NBA’s Sacramento Kings twice.

Sacramento Republic has been overlooked in its attempts to move up to MLS, with Cincinnati, Nashville and Miami being awarded spots most recently.

But the arrival of Burkle has given the club’s hopes a shot in the arm, especially after MLS commissioner Don Garber indicated that the league could expand beyond 28 teams.

Burkle has tentatively agreed to buy the Railyards stadium site and the 14 acres surrounding it to build an entertainment district.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg said Garber is aware of Burkle’s investment “and I know he is pleased by this new development”. In April 2015, Garber said it was “less about ‘if’, and more about ‘when'” Sacramento was granted an MLS franchise.

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