Nine players who bought their own clubs: Ronaldo, Drogba, Hazard, Maldini
We’re used to seeing footballers becoming coaches or pundits once they’re playing days are finished – but it’s much more of an eyebrow raiser when one swaps the dressing room for the boardroom.
Assuming they decide against the quiet retirement of golf and a bit of after-dinner speaking, coaching and punditry are the two obvious career paths for footballers to follow after hanging up their boots.
But here are some who bought the ultimate toy – including some who did it while they were still playing.
In September 2018, Ronaldo became the first ever former player to buy a club in one of the major European leagues after agreeing to invest €30million to become the major shareholder of La Liga club Real Valladolid.
As delighted as we were by the news, we were gutted to hear the Brazil legend had also been looking at clubs in England. Now that would have been fun.
The former Chelsea striker made footballing history in April 2017 when he became the game’s first ever player-owner, agreeing a unique deal with United Soccer League side Phoenix Rising, after signing as a free agent.
If you were the manager, you’d have to have some serious balls to drop him.
Kallon is probably the least known of the early-2000s Inter strikers but more than likely the most eccentric.
In 2002 the forward bought F.C. Kallon, a team in his native Sierra Leonne named after him two years before his takeover and one he already had significant control over, for £19,500.
Kallon even signed for the club in 2009, three years after they’d won the league for the first time since the bizarre rename.
His time in charge of the club has been turbulent to say the least, but he’s stuck with it and sees a future in the club that affectionately showed their love in the best way possible for him.
The Class of ’92
Part of the famous Class of ’92, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, took over Salford City of the Northern Premier League Division One North in 2014, with the aim of making them a Football League club.
Major upgrades to the Peninsula Stadium and big investment on the playing side, including from billionaire Peter Lim, has helped put Salford on the verge of achieving that aim.
In January 2019, it was announced David Beckham had also bought a 10% stake in the club.
The idea of Beckham owning a club was first proposed when he joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid in 2007 and was offered the chance to buy an MLS expansion team for $25million.
He turned down the opportunity then but began talks with the league following his retirement in 2013, and in March 2014 it was announced he had his option to buy an expansion team in Miami.
It took four years, but in September 2018 the team finally got a name – Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, or Inter Miami for short – and the franchise is due to debut in MLS in 2020.
While Beckham may be bringing MLS football to Miami, he was beaten to setting up a new team there by none other than Paolo Maldini in 2015. He intercepted everything on the field so why not carry on?
Maldini joined up with businessman Riccardo Silva to form Miami FC in the North American Soccer League, America’s second tier, appointing Alessandro Nesta as the club’s first coach.
Nesta has long since departed – Paul Dalglish is now in charge – but Maldini remains as a co-owner. He is also AC Milan’s sporting strategy & development director, and in 2017 he even qualified for an ATP tennis tournament.
What a man.
Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow
What a consortium that is. Add a goalkeeper and they could set up a five-a-side team, too.
Demba Ba fronted the group to buy an NASL expansion side in San Diego, with Hazard, Cabaye and Sow all investing to get it off the ground.
The original plan was for the team, since named 1904 FC, to make its debut in the NASL in 2018, but the season was cancelled, with the latest plan for them to join the United Soccer League in 2019 instead.
A Manchester City legend in his playing days, and a man who loved the club, Franny Lee made his fortune in toilet rolls, then bought a controlling share in the Citizens to become the chairman in 1994.
Lee was welcomed as a hero by City’s supporters, who had formed a movement named Forward With Franny, backing his attempt to gain control of the club.
Upon becoming chairman, Lee made a series of extravagant claims about his plans for the club, but he was unable to back them up.
Less than two years later, City were relegated. Lee stepped down in 1998.
Did you know Dave Whelan broke his leg once?
After a playing career that saw him turn out for just two clubs, Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra, Whelan went into business, setting up Whelan Discount Stores, followed by JJB Sports, and subsequently DW Sports.
It was in 1995 that Whelan took control of Wigan Athletic, guiding the club to the promised land of the Premier League, into Europe and to an FA Cup success in his time as chairman, before handing the reigns over to his grandson, David Sharpe, in 2015.