Over the years, many famous faces have taken over football clubs. Usually it’s those with sentimental attachments to their old hometowns, or who fancy dipping their toe in the business world. But how often does it all work out? Here’s a few of the biggest names in showbiz who’ve splashed out and bought up football teams.
Russell Crowe – South Sydney Rabbitohs
Having supported the team since he was a child and having lived in Australia for most of his life (he was actually born in New Zealand) Crowe was clearly feeling patriotic when he purchased shares in the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2006. His influence has helped the club sign big names like Greg Inglis, and he has continued to make appearances with the team at major events.
Alan Sugar – Tottenham Hotspur
Sugar (or Lord Sugar, as we now must call him) famously teamed up with Terry Venables in 1991 to buy Tottenham Hotspur, remaining a shareholder with the club for another 16 years. His tenure is not remembered particularly fondly by fans, many of whom saw him as primarily concerned with money and not the game – something Sugar later freely admitted, with Jurgen Klinsmann labelling him “a man without honour.” For his part, Sugar has spoken unfavourably of his time at Spurs, calling it “a waste of my life”. Talk about sour grapes.
Jennifer Lopez – NFL Dolphins
Both long-time football fans, Jennifer Lopez and her then-husband Mark Anthony bought a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins in 2009. Following their split in 2014, it seems that Mark Anthony was the one who got the team ownership in their divorce settlement. Not a bad consolation prize for divorcing J-Lo, all things considered.
Stephen Fry and Delia Smith – Norwich City
Possibly the two most unexpected names on this list, Fry and Smith – both long-time Norwich City supporters – have a long-standing history with the club. Smith is a majority shareholder in the club while Fry became its director in 2010, stepping down in 2016 to be replaced by Smith’s nephew Thomas, a former civil servant. Infamously, Smith made headlines in 2005 by emerging onto the pitch during a losing game against Manchester United and called for “a twelfth man” to join the team. She fiercely denied reports that she was drunk at the time, and we believe her (right?).
Jon Bon Jovi – Philadelphia Soul
Bon Jovi founded and held a majority stake in the Philadelphia Soul football team in 2004, appearing in numerous television adverts for the team and taking an active role in the running of the club. Bon Jovi stressed his desire to make the game more accessible for everyone, highlighting the cost of tickets and emphasising the need for players to be players to be role models for children. After the team won the AFL championship in 2008, he stepped down to pursue other interests.
Homer Simpson – Denver Broncos
Okay, this one’s fictional but too funny not to mention. Who can forget that classic episode of The Simpsons, “You Only Move Twice”, in which Homer expresses his long-held wish to own the Dallas Cowboys? After his super-villain boss Hank Scorpio seizes control of the east coast of the USA, he obligingly purchases Homer a football team as a parting gift. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the squad Homer had in mind – it’s the Denver Broncos. Marge can’t see the problem, but Homer, with a sigh, tells her she just doesn’t understand football.