Hollywood ball

By Jovan Belev Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/26 22:18:40

Football clubs where the stars are in the stands not on the pitch

David Beckham Photo: VCG

Much attention in recent weeks has been shone on the owners-elect of non-league side AFC Wrexham, Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Hollywood going to North Wales - Wrexham play in the English pyramid despite being firmly over the border - is a great story, of course, but it is by no means the only case where the stars are in the stands rather than on the pitch.

Los Angeles FC

A team based in Los Angeles could expect to be backed by some of the city's celebrities and the new kids on the LA block do not disappoint in that regard.

Headlined by actor Will Ferrell, there are a number of celebrity backers involved in the rivals to El Trafico rivals LA Galaxy, with Ferrell getting on board when they were founded back in 2016.

They include former US FIFA Women's World Cup winner and Olympic gold medalist Mia Hamm and basketball royalty Magic Johnson, the former LA Lakers star who was a key member of the USA men's basketball Dream Team that won gold at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

The gold in the boardroom has not been matched by silverware in the club's trophy cabinet so far in LAFC's brief history since joining the MLS in 2018.

Forest Green Rovers

Arsenal fullback Hector Bellerin bought a stake in the eco-friendly football club earlier this year. The club went fully vegan in 2015 and went carbon-neutral two years later.

"Forest Green are showing others the way," Bellerin said on his joining. "So many people feel there's no solution to the world's problems, but Forest Green are already doing plenty."


International singing superstar Elton John took over at Vicarage Road in 1976 and installed Graham Taylor in the dugout, a move that saw the club climb the divisions. Inside three years they were in the top flight and going on preseason tours to China - where Elton would serenade the players. He sold up in 1987 but remained chairman until 2002. He remains president.

Inter Miami

David Beckham is arguably the most famous footballer on the planet, dspite hanging up his boots back in 2013, but he is also a bona fide celebrity, with endorsement deals and a business portfolio that any Hollywood star would be happy to have. The side made their MLS debut this season.

Salford City

Beckham was a latecomer to the English League Two side, where he joined his former Manchester United teammates Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs as co-owners, along with ­Singaporean businessman Peter Lim.

Salford have risen up from non-league football under their ­stewardship and the owners have capitalized on their own reputations by turning it into the subject of a series of documentaries called Class of '92: Out of Their League, which began in 2015.


NBA icon LeBron James parlayed his brand into shares in the English Premier League giants when Fenway Sports Group came calling for his endorsement. He was granted a 2 percent stake in the club in 2011 and that has grown in value at least six times in the nine years since.

"It has been a thrill to watch such a storied club make their way back to the top again and to be a part of it all," his business partner Maverick Carter told ESPN in 2018. "LeBron likes the fact that he's diversified in another global sport."

James, who has often been pictured wearing Liverpool jerseys since the club signed on with his own sponsor Nike this August, has seen unrivalled success in his time with the Anfield outfit.

Liverpool won their first English Premier League title ­- and 19th overall domestic crown - under Jurgen Klopp last season, coming on the back of winning the UEFA Champions League the previpous campaign.

James celebrated that historic Premier League title from the US, unable to travel as the COVID-19 pandemic saw the season closed out behind closed doors.

"Premier League champions, Let's go," he wrote on Twitter.

South Shields FC

Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix invested in the non-league side of her hometown earlier this month, becoming honorary president of a club that is looking to become fan-owned.

Phoenix Rising

Music producer Diplo was among the early investors of what was Arizona United back in 2014. They have sinced chaged their name and brought on more star power in player and co-owner Didier Drogba in 2017.

Austin FC

The team may not play their first game until 2021 but the Texans have one of the state's most famous sons on the board: Matthew McConaughey.

"We just got our [general manager], we broke ground, we've got our stadium coming up, we'll have 22,000, we're going to start looking for players now," McConaughey told reporters last December. "So, soccer is coming to Austin, Texas."

Norwich City

British television chef Delia Smith has long been owner of the Canaries,  investing at Carrow Road with her husband in the mid-1990s and taking over in full on the death of former chairman Geoffrey Watling in 2004.

A year later Smith made her most infamous contribution by appealing to the fans of the relegation-­threatened side at halftime in a home game against Manchester City that February.

"A message for the best football supporters in the world: We need a 12th man here. Where are you? Where are you? Let's be 'avin' you! Come on!" The Canaries were beaten 3-2.

Hollywood star Hugh Jackman revealed he went close to invesiting in the team that he professes to support and regrets not investing.

"Sometimes I make big mistakes," the 42-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live back in 2011.

"I got a letter about a year ago saying, 'Being such a huge Norwich City fan would I like to be a celebrity investor?', like a small part-owner."

"People say to me about these underdog stories in Hollywood, 'it never happens in real life,' but hey, Norwich city are in the Premier League," Jackman continued.

The club are currently in the Championship after being relegated from the top flight last season.

Posted in: SOCCER

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