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Can You Buy Success? The Wild World of Celebrity Soccer Ownership

Let’s dive deeper than the glitz and glamour of celebrity to explore the transformative power of a soccer club. We’ll travel back in time to witness how a music legend not only saved his beloved club but found solace in the process. We’ll also explore the recent successes and struggles of other celebrity owners, proving that the beautiful game can be a double-edged sword for these A-listers.

Get ready for an unexpected journey through the world of soccer, music, and maybe even a little schadenfreude!

Can You Buy Success? The Wild World of Celebrity Soccer Ownership
Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham | Megan Briggs/Getty Images/AFP

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How Elton John Saved and Was Saved by Watford FC

In 1976, global musical icon Elton John became the owner of Watford Football Club. Over the next decade, John would take his boyhood club from England’s fourth division to the top flight, breathing new life into a team that had been beset by financial problems and leading them to a second-place finish and an FA Cup Final. Across his two spells as chairman, which spanned a total of 26 years, it’s safe to say that John saved Watford, but Watford saved John as well. He later reflected in his autobiography, “I was chairman throughout the worst period of my life: years of addiction and unhappiness, failed relationships, bad business deals, court cases, unending turmoil. Through all of that, Watford was a constant source of happiness to me. I’m not exaggerating when I say I think Watford might have saved my life.”

Today, John remains an honorary life president at Watford, and when the players walk out of the tunnel next to the Sir Elton John Stand, they are accompanied by John’s famous song “I’m Still Standing.”

While John’s relationship with Watford is perhaps the most iconic example, there are plenty of other celebrity owners who have made their mark on their soccer teams, for better or worse.


How David Beckham’s MLS Gamble Turned Inter Miami Into Contenders

When David Beckham left Real Madrid in 2007 and joined LA Galaxy, he sent shockwaves throughout the world of soccer by becoming the first global superstar to join the nascent MLS. In order to entice him, Beckham was offered not only an astronomical salary but the option of buying an MLS expansion franchise in any market except New York City at the fixed price of $25 million upon his retirement. He would exercise this option within months of hanging up his boots, and in 2020, his dream came to fruition as Inter Miami made their MLS debut.

After a turbulent start that saw them finish 10th and 11th in the Eastern Conference and receive a hefty punishment for violating MLS’ salary cap rules, Inter Miami would turn things around in 2022 by finishing sixth and reaching the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs. In 2023 they managed to win the Leagues Cup and replenish their squad with several footballing legends including Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets as well as arguably the greatest player in soccer history – Lionel Messi – following that up by adding one of the finest strikers of the 21st century in Luis Suárez. Today, Inter Miami boasts the best record in MLS with 10 wins, 5 draws, and 3 losses.


From GOAT to Relegation: Tom Brady’s Soccer Mishap

A seven-time Super Bowl champion and the all-time leader for touchdown passes and career passing yards, Tom Brady is widely considered to be the greatest player in the history of American football. However, his foray into the other kind of football hasn’t quite gone according to plan.

Six months after retiring from the NFL, Brady entered a partnership with Knighthead Capital Management LLC to become a minority owner of Birmingham City Ltd.

The team was sitting sixth in the Championship and on track to reach the promotion playoffs when the club decided to sack manager John Eustace, a decision that would come back to bite them. His replacement – legendary England and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney – would lose nine out of 15 matches before being given his marching orders. The Blues went through six different managers throughout the campaign, none of them able to stem the tide, and on the final day of the season, they were relegated to the English third division.

One day later, Brady was in Los Angeles for Netflix’s The Roast of Tom Brady. His longtime New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick could not avoid throwing salt in the wound, stating, “I see your soccer team got knocked down another tier in the English Football League. For those not familiar with English football, thanks to the intricacies of their obscure regulations system, I’ll put it in English for you: they suck! Not so easy to run a team, is it Tom?”



Questions Of The Day

What’s one successful example of celebrity soccer ownership?

Elton John took his boyhood club Watford from the doldrums of English football to the pinnacle, and he will be remembered as a savior to the thousands of Watford supporters across England.

What’s one unsuccessful example of celebrity soccer ownership?

Whilst Tom Brady has delivered an unprecedented career in American football, it’s fair to say that his start to life in soccer ownership has been far less auspicious.

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