Former Stoke City director Phil Rawlins has set his sights on a double promotion after agreeing a deal in principle to join the board at Falkirk.
The self-made millionaire from Longton joined the Stoke board in 2000 and stayed as a director until 2014, having in the mean time made significant strides in football on the other side of the Atlantic.
He was instrumental in the founding of Orlando City, who joined MLS in 2015 and have a new, acclaimed 25,500-capacity stadium which features a stand modelled on the old Boothen End at the Victoria Ground.
Rawlins, now based in Colorado, says he has been looking to return to football in Europe over the last few months.
That has led him to Falkirk, who have slipped to League One in Scotland – and were second and in the hunt to go up when the music stopped in mid-March. Their new season will start next month.
Rawlins and wife Carrie are making a six-figure investment in return for a 26 per cent share in the club.
He said: “For several months we have been looking at clubs across Europe, and particularly in Scotland, who share our ambitions and are aligned with our views on how to advance a community centric football club.
“Considering Falkirk’s size, history and fanbase we recognise the club has been under-performing in recent years and we believe we can offer the financial impetus, network and expertise to help take Falkirk back to the Premiership.”
The Rawlins have spent the last few years running a consultancy business – Sleeping Giant Consulting – for football leagues and clubs around the world.
Falkirk chairman Gary Deans said in a statement: “We are delighted to announce that we have reached an agreement in principle with new stakeholders who wish to make a significant investment in Falkirk FC.
“As a board, we have spent significant time getting to know (Phil and Carrie) and ensuring that our respective ambitions for the club are completely aligned.
“We believe that they bring enormous expertise and connections which will benefit the club but likewise they see huge potential in Falkirk to build a successful community focused club which operates successfully in the Scottish Premiership.
“It’s important to point out that the club is not for sale and the Rawlins’ do not have any plans to be majority owners of the club. They completely buy-in to what we are striving to do, and our vision of a balanced ownership structure, a structure that is only successful when fans get to invest and support simultaneously with outside investors.
“This is an exciting and important development for Falkirk FC. There remains work to do to finalise this deal and we will of course keep you updated as matters develop.”