US tycoon backs football underdogs
Published 04/11/2010 | 12:04
A US billionaire called Robert Rich with a love of the underdog is to plough some of his fortune into lowly football team Bedlington Terriers.
The 488th richest man in the world could have followed the Glazers, Randy Lerner or John W Henry and bought a stake in the global success of the Premier League.
But instead, the chairman of the Rich Products Corporation, chose the unfashionable Northumberland side from the ninth tier of English football.
The 69-year-old tycoon got involved after tracing his family back to the area. His wife bought him the title Lord of Bedlington and on further investigation he became interested in the Terriers.
The American has become a shirt sponsor, has put in an undisclosed amount of cash, and gone some way to buck the image of the unpopular transatlantic owner by keeping his feet on the ground with his ambitions.
He told the Journal: "I haven't made any promises. Having said that, I would love to see them do well and let them challenge me to increase our participation."
He will ship a £30,000 electronic scoreboard to the homely Welfare Park ground, and is looking to turn the club shirts into a cult item for US sports fans.
For the time being, officials at the Northern League club aim to get promotion to the same level as local rivals Blyth Spartans, four tiers above them.
Club secretary David Callop said: "In my dream of dreams I would like to see Bedlington step on to the pitch as a League Division Two side. Who knows whether that might happen?
"But we are not splashing the cash on players now, we are slowly improving our ground."