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  • Players Who Have Gone On To Own Football Clubs David Beckham, Ronaldo, Zlatan...

Players who have gone on to own football clubs - David Beckham, Ronaldo, Zlatan...

Coaching and managing can be a precarious profession for ex-pros so these current and former players have bought into clubs so they can do the hiring and firing themselves.

With Chelsea legend John Terry joining forces with a consortium looking to buy into Chelsea, Planet Sport takes a look at some famous players-turned-owners and how their clubs have performed.

We start with the most famous of them all.

David Beckham - Inter Miami

I'm a big believer in the stop-in-the-street fame test - show the public a photo and ask them who it is - and on that metric David Beckham is probably the most famous former footballer who now owns a club.

That club is Major League Soccer upstart Inter Miami.

When Beckham signed for LA Galaxy in his mega-bucks deal of 2007, his contract included an option to buy an expansion franchise at a discount price somewhere down the line.
He exercised that right in 2014 with Inter finally kicking off in the MLS in 2020.
However, as fans well know, fame and fortune does not equal success in football. In their two completed seasons, Inter have finished no higher than 10th in the 14-team Eastern Conference, while this term they have already slipped to the bottom of the pile.
Beckham is also involved in the ownership of EFL club Salford City (see below).

Ronaldo - Real Valladolid

While Beckham's fame is undoubted, even the man himself would admit that in terms of footballing ability, he was light years behind his former Real Madrid team-mate Ronaldo Nazario. The real Ronaldo to those of a certain age.
One of the most skilful and destructive forwards of all-time, the Brazilian is now making his way in club ownership.
He bought a majority stake of Spanish club Real Valladolid in 2018 and has since increased his shareholding. That investment suffered a hit when Real were relegated last season but they are currently in the mix to return to La Liga's Primera Division.
More recently, Ronaldo took a controlling stake of Brazilian side Cruzeiro, the club he played for before moving to Europe to join PSV Eindhoven.

Class of 92 - Salford City

When a bunch of treble-winning players got together to buy non-league Salford City in 2014, headlines were guaranteed.
With their Manchester United links, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt already knew plenty about Salford, who at the time were plying their trade in Division One of the Northern Premier League, the eighth tier of English football.
Unsurprisingly, such investment at that level brought immediate rewards - not to mention plenty of enemies, who accused Salford of buying their way into the Football League.
It wasn't always a smooth ride - as a Sky Sports documentary famously highlighted (come on, who remembers Babs in the kitchen?) - but a fourth promotion in 2019 did see Salford move into League Two where they still reside.
Another member of United's 'Class of 92', David Beckham, has since added his name to the ownership list - each former England star holds a 10% stake with the rest of the club owned by Singapore businessman Peter Lim.

Hector Bellerin - Forest Green Rovers

Arsenal star Bellerin, currently on loan at Real Betis, has earned a reputation as one of the more environmentally conscious footballers and such thinking was behind his decision to buy into Forest Green.
The League Two high-fliers have also been at the forefront of sustainability issues, with the United Nations officially labelling them as the first carbon-neutral football club in the world, so the pair look the perfect fit.
After becoming the club's second-largest shareholder, Bellerin said: "They're a clear example of how to run a football club in our times so I wanted to be a part of it and offer my help to them in whichever way I could."
Things are going swimmingly on the pitch too - Rovers currently sit top of League Two and are bang on course for promotion.

Cesar Azpilicueta - Hashtag United

In 2018, Chelsea defender Azpilicueta became a part owner of a club spawned by social media - the clue's in the name, lads.
It had only been formed two years earlier by YouTube personality Spencer Owen, initially streaming its friendly matches against celebrities and ex-pros online and garnering a huge following on social media.
The nomadic club - their latest ground share is with Essex side Bowers and Pitsea - joined the pyramid system in 2018 and have already been promoted twice. They currently play in the Isthmian League's North Division.
For a celebrity owner, Azpilicueta has been fairly hands-on and sits on the club's board.

Didier Drogba - Phoenix Rising

Drogba finished his playing career in Phoenix, Arizona, turning out for the Rising in the second tier in the USA - they still play at that level today.
When he signed, he also became a part-owner.
So how did a Champions League winner end up at a footballing outpost in Arizona?
Well, Drogba had previously played in Turkey for Galatasaray where he met Berke Bakay, who is co-chairman at Phoenix Rising. Bakay was also recently part of a group which bought into Ipswich Town.
The Rising have a number of minority shareholders, including DJ and music producer Diplo.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Hammarby

Ibrahimovic has never been shy of bigging things up, usually himself, but there was certainly some truth in his statement which followed his 25% purchase of Swedish club Hammarby in 2019.

Ibra said the club had "the greatest potential to become the biggest in Scandinavia" and that is backed up by its large fanbase - they have regularly topped the average attendance chart in the Allsvenskan, Sweden's top flight.
Despite this, they've won the title just once (and that was more than 20 years ago).
Still, things are looking up with the Swedish Cup won since Ibrahimovic's investment.
That did not go down well at his former club Malmo, though, with a statue of the current AC Milan forward repeatedly vandalised. It was taken down just two months after Ibrahimovic bought into Hammarby.

Mark Palios - Tranmere Rovers

Probably best known for his role as chief executive of the Football Association in the early Noughties - and his relationship with employee Faria Alam which resulted in his resignation - Palios actually enjoyed a decent professional career.
He played well over 300 league games as a midfielder, the majority of which were at Tranmere, the club he now owns with his wife, Nicola.
Under the Palios' ownership, it has certainly been exciting on the pitch with relegation to the National League being soon followed by back-to-back promotions.
Although Rovers are now back in League Two, there is little doubt that greater off-field stability has been brought to the Prenton Park club.

Francis Lee - Manchester City

Lee was arguably the most famous player-turned-owner in the early days of the Premier League.
After ending a highly-successful playing career, the two-time title winner became a millionaire making toilet rolls - insert potty-mouthed football chant here - and used some of his money to buy a controlling stake in his former club.
Lee made some rather wild claims upon his arrival about how the good times would be returning to the club - "this will be the happiest club in the land. The players will be the best paid and we'll drink plenty of champagne" - immediately setting himself up for a fall.

That soon came with City ignominiously relegated to the third tier of English football during his reign, although they would return to the top flight before Lee sold up.

Dave Whelan - Wigan Athletic

Whelan was once considering buying out Lee at City as he looked to become a Premier League owner.
Instead, he did it the hard way, delivering Wigan to the top flight in 2005, just as he'd promised when taking over the Latics a decade previous. Under Whelan's ownership, the club would also win the FA Cup in 2013 - the same season they dropped out of the top tier.
It is less widely known that the man who ran the JJB Sports and DW Sports stores was a former footballer himself.
A left-back, Whelan played for Blackburn in the 1960 FA Cup final but broke his leg during what turned out to be a 3-0 defeat to Wolves.

READ MORE: Who is the richest footballer in the world - and no it’s not Cristiano Ronaldo…or Lionel Messi

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