Marcelo has bought a Portuguese second-tier club, Mafra, which is in the quarter-finals of their domestic cup, ‘la Taça’, and also has a chance of promotion. Four years ago he founded Azuriz Futebol Clube in Brazil, since promoted to the Primera Paranaense.
His intention is to create a small football holding company, to train players at Azuriz and to show them off in Europe at Mafra.

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His exploits follow those of Ronaldo with Cruzeiro and Valladolid, and Piqué, owner of Andorra. Buffon bought Carrarese, Beckham bought Miami and English side Salford, along with Neville and Scholes.

Then in Portugal, we have Belenguer with Tondela.

Brand faces and Peter Pans

There are numerous examples. In Spain, at another level, we see Rayo Majadahonda owned by Arribas and Intercity Alicante with Juanfran, among others. The question is, why do footballers get into this, often challenging, business in the first place? The answer in many cases is that they put their face to the investment funds behind them, thus opening new doors for them.

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Others do put in their own money, in a Peter-Pan-esque desire to give something back to the game, thinking they can do better than previous bosses who have suffered. This is not always the case, though. Buffon left Carrarese with cold feet and a hothead. Beckham is un-investing in Miami.

A growing trend

In some ways it is reckless, but much less so than in the past. Using smaller clubs as ‘fattening farms’ to develop and give prestige to newcomers is profitable if it is done well. But also the financial control, almost exemplary in the Spanish leagues and which will be copied more and more, opens a new era. Some Spanish clubs already pay out dividends.
It is not that strange to see this trend, already extended into the world of basketball with Marc Gasol and Girona, in the dual role of player and boss. In short, it is a phenomenon that is spreading and which is still relatively new, although we can look at the older, and successful, case of Percassi at Atalanta.


Courtesy: Alfredo Relano, an expert at Diario AS

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