Celebrities have long been known to pour money into their favorite sports clubs, with Sir Elton John investing in his beloved Watford football club more than four decades ago.
Now rumor has it that Hollywood hunk George Clooney, 60, is planning to take over Derby County, nicknamed the Rams and managed by ex-Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. The Oscar-winning actor, who lives in Berkshire with his wife Amal, a prominent human rights lawyer, was reportedly interested in taking over the cash-strapped club. Derby County took over last September and are struggling to stay out of relegation after a 21-point deduction for allegedly breaking accounting rules.
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Rumors that Clooney was eyeing the club first emerged following an interview he had with Derbyshire life in which he expressed his love for “the Rams”. The Hollywood idol was reportedly introduced to the club by Derbyshire-born actor Jack O’Connell in 2015 while they were filming crime thriller Money Monster.
During the interview, Clooney said Derby County was “a great football club with a fantastic history and I’m sure there’s a great future too. I know there have been some issues lately. time, but nothing that couldn’t be resolved and – under the circumstances – the team worked very hard and played well.” He continued: “My interest in football has certainly increased in recent years and a few years ago I was asked if I wanted to be involved with a group of other people looking to buy Malaga football club in Spain. It was quite an exciting prospect but in the end it fell through.” He then added: “Maybe owning a football club is the next best thing to playing for a… Maybe one day.” Although Clooney did not definitively say he was considering buying the club, speculation was rife as the interview was published on Friday and the deadline for the club’s takeover bids was the same evening.
Bernard Bale, who conducted the original interview with Clooney, told the Daily mail that reports of the actor leading a takeover of the club were “perhaps exaggerated” but that he “wouldn’t let it go”. Bale explained: “Clooney isn’t short of money, he’s a fun guy, he loves sport and he’s been following Derby County for a number of years. It wouldn’t surprise me if just for fun, he said: ‘Yeah, I’ll throw in £1m or whatever that might be. He’s a pretty quirky guy.
English football star Rooney is said to have been surprised by reports that Clooney is looking to buy his club. A Derby spokesman did not deny the claims but said it was up to the club’s directors to decide on issues such as potential ownership. It comes after Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Welsh side Wrexham last year, aiming to turn the National League club into a “global force”. Meanwhile, celebrity chef Delia Smith is one of the main investors in Premier League club Norwich City, according to the Mail.