Ronaldo, Zlatan, Beckham: 10 players who own stakes in football clubs

Cesc Fabregas has extended his illustrious career by penning a two-year deal with Serie B outfit Como 1907, while also agreeing to purchase a stake in the club.

The midfielder will go down as one of the best in the 21st Century for his stunning exploits with Arsenal, Barcelona, Chelsea and of course the Spanish national team, whom he lifted the World Cup and European Championships with.

But following a spell with AS Monaco in Ligue 1, Fabregas has now confirmed he’ll play his football in the Italian second tier this season with Como, whose CEO is none other than Chelsea hero Dennis Wise.

Not only will Fabregas be playing football in the beautiful region of Italy, he has also agreed to part own the side, with one eye evidently on life after playing.

It marks an extraordinary turnaround for the Italian outfit, who were reformed as a Serie D outfit in 2017 following bankruptcy and only returned to the professional tiers of football in 2019.

So, not only has Fabregas played in a host of incredible places around the world – London, Barcelona, Monaco and now Como – but he’s setting up a more permanent stall in Lombardy, too. Anyone that’s seen images of the stunning views of Lake Como will be incredibly envious of the 35-year-old.

While many footballers opt to go down the more conventional routes of coaching and management or failing that punditry and media, there is actually a growing list of players who are choosing to invest in clubs around the world.

Footballers past and present are getting involved with owning clubs in some capacity. Not only will some of the names who are dipping their toes into the water of football club ownership shock you, but the clubs being purchased will also.

With Fabregas taking the next step and obtaining a stake in Como, we at GIVEMESPORT thought now is as good a time as ever to pull together a list of footballers who actually own other clubs in some capacity. Be sure to check it out below.

Class of 92 – Salford City

Starting out with an obvious one, most English football fans are aware of Manchester United’s ‘Class of 92’ and their ownership of Salford City.

Since taking charge of the club in 2014, the Class of 92 – Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs – have managed to take Salford to a full-time, professional club and to the Football League, with the club now in League Two.

The Class of 92
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – DECEMBER 01: (L-R) Paul Scholes, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, David Beckham and Gary Neville attend the world premiere of “The Class of 92” at Odeon West End on December 1, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Gerard Pique – FC Andorra

Pique acquired FC Andorra in 2018 via his Kosmos Holding Group business. They play in the Spanish football system despite officially being a team from the principality of Andorra, making their story incredibly unique.

Since the legendary defender took over ownership of the club, Andorra have climbed the ranks of Spanish football and this season play will in the second tier for the first time ever. Who knows, Pique could be around for long enough to represent is own team in La Liga soon enough.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Hammarby

Founded in 1915, Stockholm-based outfit Hammarby have won the Swedish top flight once. It was announced that Ibrahimovic had acquired a 23.5% stake in the club’s shares in 2019.

Hammarby won the 2020/21 Svenska Cupen and have played in European competition in the time since Ibrahimovic has been involved, but are still struggling to make their newfound success stick more consistently.

Ibrahimovic for Sweden
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – NOVEMBER 17: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden celebrates after the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier Play-Off Second Leg match between Denmark and Sweden at Parken Stadium on November 17, 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

David Beckham – Inter Miami

As well as co-owning Salford City, Beckham owns MLS franchise Inter Miami. He negotiated with MLS that upon signing for LA Galaxy in 2007, he could open up his own expansion team in the division for a fixed price of $25 million whenever he stopped playing there.

It cost both FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC $150m to enter into the MLS in 2019 and 2020 respectively, highlighting just how brilliant a decision Beckham made in 2007. Hats off to him.

Chelsea agree Cucurella terms (Football Terrace)

Didier Drogba – Phoenix Rising FC

Beckham inspired a generation of top class players to go out and try the United States. After a stint in MLS, Drogba dropped down a division to USL Championship outfit Phoenix Rising FC in 2017, where he also became a minority owner.

The move made Drogba the first ever player-owner in football history. They still haven’t achieved expansion into MLS, but with how costly a move that proves to be, it isn’t a surprising reality.

Drogba playing for Phoenix Rising
PHOENIX, AZ – JUNE 10: Didier Drogba #11 of Phoenix Rising FC dribbles the ball during warm ups prior to the game against the Vancouver Whitecaps II at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex on June 10, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Jamie Vardy – Rochester New York FC

Everything about this one is weird. Vardy investing in lower tier North American football? Weird. Rochester New York being on hiatus from 2017 to 2023? Weird and painfully North American.

Following a rebranding from Rochester Rhinos in 2021 after the club’s failed attempt to join the USL League One, funding was secured as Vardy came on board by purchasing stakes in the club, which has been revived. RNYFC is set to compete in the inaugural MLS Next Pro league.

Paolo Maldini – Miami FC

Completing our set of footballers investing in the states is Maldini, who spent his entire career with AC Milan but has since invested in Miami FC.

Not connected to Beckham’s MLS franchise, Miami FC were founded in 2015 and play in the USL Championship. With how much the American top flight has grown, investing in sides in lower divisions appears to be the most sensible option right now.

AC Milan's Maldini
VERONA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 15: Paolo Maldini of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona and AC Milan at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on September 15, 2019 in Verona, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Ronaldo – Real Valladolid and Cruzeiro

Back in Europe, one of football’s most iconic players has stuck around in the game and in the league where he made such a monstrous impact. Ronaldo invested in Valladolid in 2018, becoming majority owner by purchasing a 51% stake.

He currently serves as President of the La Liga side, and widened his portfolio in 2021 by acquiring stakes in Brazilian outfit Cruzeiro – his boyhood club.

Hector Bellerin – Forest Green Rovers

Bellerin has become known for his continued interests in environmentalism and sustainability as he has grown over the years. And while it looks likely that he could leave Arsenal after a mammoth tenure, he will keep roots in England as he co-owns League One outfit Forest Green Rovers.

A fan of their commitments to sustainability, the Spanish full back became the club’s second-largest shareholder in 2020. Let’s see where he can help to take the world’s first vegan football club.

Bellerin in action for Real Betis
SEVILLE, SPAIN – JANUARY 02: Hector Bellerin of Real Betis reacts during the LaLiga Santander match between Real Betis and RC Celta de Vigo at Estadio Benito Villamarin on January 02, 2022 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

Cesar Azpilicueta – Hashtag United

Rounding off the list is Azpilicueta, who has gone in a completely different direction to most and invested in Hashtag United – a club who were founded by YouTuber Spencer FC.

Hashtag started out as a team who merely played games on YouTube, but have since blown up completely. They are now a fully semi-professional outfit and have played in the FA Cup. Hearing that Azpilicueta has co-owned the club since 2018 is certainly an intriguing fact.

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