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Five athletes that own football clubs as Holdsworth takes over Bolton

| 22.02.2016

Robbie Purves | February 22, 2016

Dean Holdsworth and his Sports Shield group have completied the takeover of cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers.

Championship side Bolton are £173m in debt and sit rock bottom of the league.

The club’s accounts were frozen when HM Revenue and Customs served them with a winding up petition over £2.25m of unpaid tax, and their very future was in doubt and there was a real risk the club would go out of business.


Sports Shield Investment’s deal, lead by former Bolton striker Holdsworth, is thought to be under the £20m owner Eddie Davies had been asking for, but has been accepted. It is also believed that Bolton native and boxer Amir Khan is part of the consortium.

Holdsworth spent six seasons at Bolton, scoring 52 goals in 188 appearances.

With the deal likely completed, we take a look at other athletes that have become football team owners…

Dave Whelan – Wigan Athletic

Whelan played for Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra and ‘famously’ missed out on playing in Blackburn’s 1960 FA Cup final after breaking his leg.

After his football career, he turned his attention to business and became a multimillionaire. Whelan, now worth £150m, made his money in sports equipment and sold his family stake in JJB for £190m in 2007.

Wigan Athletic's chairman Dave Whelan, right, and manager Roberto Martinez celebrate with the trophy after their win against Manchester City at the end of their English FA Cup final soccer match at Wembley Stadium, London, Saturday, May 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Now 79, Whelan bought the side in 1995 and oversaw Wigan’s rise through the leagues. The former player finally tasted FA Cup success in 2013 with Roberto Martinez’s triumph over Man City. After 53 years, Whelan finally got to lift the trophy after missing out due to a leg break. Not that he mentioned it.

Wigan sit just seven points behind the leaders in League 1 and Coral have them a super 4/1 to win it this year.

David Beckham – Miami MLS Franchise

In 2014, MLS announced that David Beckham and other investors would own an expansion team in Miami.

Beckham had received an option to own an expansion team at a discounted fee, as part of the contract when he signed for Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.

When Beckham ended his playing career in 2013, the league held discussions with his advisers about several expansion targets. The league announced that Beckham exercised his option to own a franchise in February 2014 and that the Miami Beckham United investment group would create a club in Miami.

Former English soccer star David Beckham, third from left, poses with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, left, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez, right, and soccer fans with the Southern Legion at a news conference where he announced he will exercise his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
The name of the team has not yet been announced, although the ‘Miami Vice’ and ‘Miami Current’ were used by the ownership group in presentations for the city officials and potential investors.

The team is estimated to begin playing in the MLS in 2018.

Steve Nash – Real Mallorca

In 2016, the legendary basketball point guard became the joint owner of the Balearic club.

The Former two-time NBA MVP and avid football fan, Steve Nash and Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver bought a controlling share of the Spanish second-tier side, Real Mallorca. The club announced that Sarver’s company, also owned by Nash and Andy Kohlberg, had bought shares worth more than £14.7m.

Two-time NBA most valuable player Steve Nash is introduced into the Suns Ring of Fire at halftime of an NBA basketball game between the Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Nash has been part-owner of MLS club the Vancouver Whitecaps since 2008 and is expected to be involved in the day to day running of the Spanish Club.

The Canadian is a die-hard Tottenham fan and is friends with Thierry Henry, Alessandro del Piero and Owen Hargreaves.

The Class of 92 – Salford City

In 2014, news broke that former Man United players Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, would takeover as as owners of Salford – subject to Football Association approval.

(left to right) Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Phil Neville, David Beckham and Gary Neville, arriving for the world premiere of The Class of 92 at the Odeon Leicester Square, central London.
They later sold 50 percent of the club to Singaporean businessman and current Valencia owner, Peter Lim. Each own a 10 percent stake each.

The group is targeting being in the Championship within 15 years and have already earned one promotion in their tenure.

LeBron James – Fenway Sports Group

When one of basketball’s greatest ever players decides to invest in a sports team, he doesn’t go for an MLS franchise, he invests in one of the games most famous and successful clubs.

U.S. and Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James looks on before the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield, Liverpool, England, Saturday Oct. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Tim Hales)

In 2011, LeBron purchased a stake from the Fenway Sports Group (who also own the Boston Red Sox) but the deal is based more on a global marketing strategy than a particular fondness for the club or ‘the beautiful game’. Don’t expect King James to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the Kop faithful on a regular basis.

LeBron’s beloved Liverpool are 10/1 to win the Europa League this year.


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Robbie Purves