Meet Scottish football's new American owner: no 'silly dreamer', rockstar signing and why US will keep investing

After 38 years under the Browns, St Johnstone are now in the hands of Webb as American influence swells in SPFL

The biggest transfer this summer in Scottish football does not involve a player. No, it is the purchase of St Johnstone Football Club by American lawyer Adam Webb, who is now the 70 per cent majority shareholder of the Perth outfit.

Webb, a hugely successful 53-year-old businessman based out of Georgia, has acquired St Johnstone from Geoff Brown, ending the construction baron's 38-year stewardship of the McDiarmid Park club. Webb has set up a consortium called Saints In America LLC and he will reveal later this week an eight-strong battalion of fellow investors who will take a shareholding of five per cent or less from his own pot. It is all change down Perth way.

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Stan Harris, in the short term, will remain as chief executive but St Johnstone now has stars and stripes running through its fabric. They become the fourth Scottish Premiership club to be owned by Americans, joining Hibs (the Gordon family), Dundee (Tim Keyes) and Dundee United (Mark Ogren) to have majority control from across the pond. A third of Scotland's top-flight has US personnel at the tiller now.

Webb already had a foothold in UK football. He has a ten per cent investment in Cambridge United but hankered for outright ownership of a club on these shores. When Brown - a willing seller - and Webb were put together back in February, they hit it off and agreed a deal.

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“I wanted to get involved in Scottish football, it’s a great league and a dynamic league," explained Webb, bedecked in a tartan St Johnstone scarf as he met the media on Wednesday morning. “Once I focused on Scotland, to see Geoff’s comments about the club - sustainability, assets and the things they have in place - it made sense.

“There are no ticking time bombs here. There were multiple options but this one was the best by far. It’s a beautiful place, I was jogging down the Tay this morning and you’re so close to everything here.

“You’re just an hour from Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews as well - so it’s ideally situated for my family when they come over and the other investors when they visit. I don’t have any doubts about what we’ve done.”

Webb is not the first from the US to invest in Scottish football and he does not think he will be the last. He felt his talks with the Scottish FA when they did due diligence on the agreement due to his Cambridge involvement went well and that they are open-minded on overseas cash.

“Americans are dreamers, we’re renowned for trying to do exceptional things," continued Webb, who has four children and numerous business commitments. “So the phenomenon of Americans getting involved in football here makes sense to me.

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“If we have a passion, we try to act on that passion - even if people tell you you’re crazy. And I had plenty of people say to me ‘are you sure you want to do this?’

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“But it makes sense to me and I think the trend of American investment is going to continue because there’s a groundswell of interest back home about these leagues.

“There are a lot of resources in America which can be brought to bear and I think that’s positive for Scottish football.”

Webb was asked specifically what his "dream" for St Johnstone is. “You don’t want to be deemed silly," he replied. “When you’re in the Scottish Premiership you don’t have the dreams you might have in other leagues.

“No-one can say they’re going to win the league because there’s the Old Firm sitting there. No-one wants to be seen as a silly dreamer. Realistic dreams are qualifying for Europe and cup wins.

“Can we beat Celtic and Rangers sometimes and give them a hell of a game on other occasions? Yes. Putting another 1,000 fans on the gate over the next few years would be fantastic.

“Staying in the Premiership isn’t a dream, it’s essential to continued success. We’ve got to continue that or it’s failure."

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Webb made clear what his one ambition is for the upcoming campaign. “The dream for this year is top six," he stated. “I like the excitement building at the club and the signings Craig [Levein, manager] is making. I do think top six is an aspirational goal and a realistic goal."

Webb has already met with Levein and visited the players during training. He is heartened by the summer recruitment and says striker Adama Sidibeh, subject of a bid from Swansea, will not be sold on the cheap. His investment has also raised the player budget - although the plan is to careful with the cash and keep St Johnstone largely self-sustainable.

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“We’ve given it a boost," Webb said of the transfer kitty. “That will help getting another couple of high-quality players. We’ve just bought in a potential rockstar player in Aaron Essel. A lot of it is about thinking outside the box and the usual recruitment fields. We want to find diamonds in the rough."

Webb is so committed to the St Johnstone project that he has bought a four-bedroom house in Perth that he plans to remodel. “Having a base here is very important," he said. "Putting down roots in the community is symbolically important but I think it’s just a quality of life important.

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“If you want to come over several times a year, spent a week or two that’s what I am envisioning it’s nice to have a central location, beautiful home. A really comfortable place and I want all the owners and families to come over as much as possible.

“They are going to be here spending money at McDiarmid and the city. Hopefully others, friends and friends or friends will take advantage of that. Some will play golf, others won’t see a football match but I will be encouraging support of the club.”

Webb will be at Brechin City on Saturday for the start of St Johnstone's Premier Sports Cup group-stage campaign, with another investor Matt Klase by his side. A new era begins in earnest.

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