Chad Ochocinco wanted to earn a paycheck through soccer; LeBron James wants to write the checks.
According to the Wall Street Journal, James has worked out a deal with John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group to gain a minority share in England’s Liverpool Soccer Club, currently owned by FSG.
FSG, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, is partnering with Mr. James’s sports-marketing firm, LRMR Branding & Marketing to become the exclusive world-wide representative for Mr. James.
The deal marks the first time that a professional athlete at the top of his game has taken an ownership interest in a team with the size and reach of Liverpool, which is one of the most popular and powerful sports franchises in the world.
It’s been a big day for LeBron, with the premiere of his new cartoon show and all. Just another step along the path to becoming a billionaire. It also reaffirms the idea that James didn’t need to move to New York to achieve his goal of being a global icon. Although, it’s hard to imagine this same thing happening if he had remained in Cleveland.
It could also make for an added rivalry with Jay-Z. James, of course, turned down a chance to play for the New Jersey Nets last offseason. Now he’s challenging Jigga across the pond, as well. Jay-Z is a fan of Arsenal – one of Liverpool’s main rivals in the Premier League – and has repeatedly expressed his desire to buy a portion of the team.
By the way, the idea of athletes owning teams isn’t new. Former Major League Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent has repeatedly floated the idea of including ownership shares in contracts for superstars, most recently as a solution to the Albert Pujols negotiations.
(H/T Pro Basketball Talk)