Phoenix Rising adds Advantage Sports Union Ltd. as a major investor to bolster MLS bid

New Phoenix Rising majority investor Alex Zheng, co-founder and chairman of Plateno Hotel Group.
New Phoenix Rising part owner Alex Zheng, co-founder and chairman of Plateno Hotel Group.

Phoenix Rising FC announced Saturday morning that it has added Advantage Sports Union Ltd. and its chairman Alex Zheng as a major investor in the club to bolster its bid for an MLS expansion franchise.

Zheng will bring his hospitality and tourism expertise, international soccer knowledge and business acumen to Phoenix Rising FC as its newest owner and director of the Club’s governing board. Zheng is also the president of Plateno Group, a hotels company.

Zheng is also a major investor of the group that purchased French Ligue 1 club OGC Nice. That group has an 80 percent controlling interest in the club.

“We were fortunate and flattered to meet with a number of impressive investors who have interest in Phoenix Rising FC, but Alex Zheng was exceptional,” Berke Bakay, governor of Phoenix Rising FC said in a release. “His amazing knowledge, experience and intellect were only exceeded by his incredible personality and passion for our sport. My partners and I were unanimous in our desire to add Advantage Sports Union to our ownership and Alex to Phoenix Rising FC’s leadership.”

In addition to its relationship with OGC Nice and ownership of Phoenix Rising FC, Advantage Sports Union is currently building an international youth soccer academy in China and marketing club alliances throughout Asia.

“Phoenix Rising FC has wonderful potential,” Zheng, Chairman of Advantage Sports Union, said in a release. “Soccer fans throughout Arizona and across the United States are embracing the team after only its first year, and its soccer operations are very impressive.  I am confident we can assist the Club with its MLS aspirations and create an unprecedented pathway from youth soccer to the highest levels of international competition with Arizona as the North American hub. Personally, I have a deep connection with Phoenix, a wonderful place where my daughter was born. To partner with Phoenix Rising FC along with all of its great owners is not just a business deal, it’s personal for me as well.”