The Last Word: Want to buy part of a sports star? Well here’s your chance

Fans could soon trade shares in the earning potential of their heroes. So who to sell or buy?

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The Independent Online

Brand Beckham has finally missed a trick. Buying a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, and staging electronic signing sessions in Hyderabad, New York and Sao Paulo for 30 million Facebook followers, is positively passé.

The future has arrived in the form of Arian Foster, the Houston Texans running back. In the ultimate synthesis of sport and business, grace and greed, he is selling shares in his earning potential. You, too, could own the virtual toenail of an authentic superstar.

Foster has sold 20 per cent of his future income to Fantex Holdings, a San Francisco investment company headed by legendary quarterback John Elway, for $10million (£6.3m). The deal will be financed by the sale of 1,055,000 $10 shares in “Arian Foster Convertible Tracking Stock”.

The initiative, due to be launched later this month after ratification by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, will be broadened to include other marquee athletes if it is successful.

So who are the human alternatives to speculating on the price of pork bellies or the value of derivatives? Here are 10 sporting figures, of contrasting experience, character and quality to consider.

Remember, the value of investments can go up or down.


Joe Root... Buy

Already a hit in Walkabout bars and God’s Own County, the cherubic Yorkshire batsman is ready to reclaim Australia for the Mother Country. The Ashes will establish him as the Housewife’s Favourite.

Stuart Broad... Sell

Every closet comedian, fuelled by fizzy beer and the conviction they are the reincarnation of Crocodile Dundee, will be on his case this winter. He could just crumble.

Christian Wade... Buy

Yesterday’s omission by England ensures stock can be picked up cheaply. Watch it soar as the Wasps winger answers reservations that he is too small for international Rugby Union. Anyone with his youth, speed, athleticism and agility is a shoo-in for 2015.

Chris Ashton... Sell

The Saracens winger has had the benefit of tough love from England coach Stuart Lancaster, who gave him the summer off to meditate on the lessons of adversity. Though psychologically stronger, someone so prone to self-absorption is always a risk.

Adam Lallana... Buy

Loyalty rarely meets precocity, but Lallana, symbol of Southampton’s breakthrough season, is a singular success. He stayed by the club in League One. His maturation into a goalscoring midfielder will propel him into England’s World Cup squad.

Frank Lampard...Sell

A tough call, but there’s no compassion in business. Lampard is an admirable professional and the epitome of reliability, but he might just reach his sell-by date before next summer’s finals in Brazil.

Joe Kinnear... Buy

At face value, this is the sort of advice guaranteed to sully the reputation of any stockbroker. JFK is universally derided, yet there is a depressing inevitability about his ultimate accession to the manager’s job at Newcastle United.

Sir Alex Ferguson... Sell

Cash in at the top of the market, while he is being treated as a cross between Bill Gates, William Shakespeare and Sir Matt Busby. His eminence is unchallenged, but he remains unsuited to retirement.

Murray Walker... Buy

He’s 90, needs crutches and is beating cancer. He embodies what Formula One has lost: wit, adventure, perspective and, above all, humanity.

Lewis Hamilton... Sell

Spot the difference. Self-serving and superficial, his blithe abandonment of the Mercedes team principal  Ross Brawn, a man he hailed as a mentor only last month, is an unintentionally revealing character reference.


Taking poetry out of football

The ghost of Sir Bobby Robson has been enlisted in the fight against Mike Ashley’s dysfunctional regime at Newcastle United.

His immortal observation on what constitutes a football club has been recycled in an attempt to shame playground bullies who ban supporters’ groups and sportswriters for sharing home truths.

It won’t of course, but it is worth repeating, not least for its final paragraph.

This describes “a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”

We all remember our first time. Mine involved sneaking through an allotment before vaulting a flimsy fence on to a shale terrace, where I watched Watford in the old Third Division. Awe obliterated guilt.

It’s strange to speak of innocence given the duplicity involved in my introduction, but this was the place where bedroom posters came to life. Senses were heightened, and the world expanded.

The possibilities seemed endless, and the pain was strangely soothing. Ashley (below) sees a balance sheet where the rest of us read poetry. What a sad, unfulfilling existence.

Wrong target

The animal-cruelty lobby, usually so strategic and effective in horse racing, have misjudged the public mood. In denigrating Tony McCoy by associating him with the deaths of 25 horses as he approaches his 4,000th winner, they have selected the wrong target, at the wrong time.