Is George Clooney buying Derby County? Club manager Wayne Rooney 'surprised' by reports
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, it is rumored that Hollywood hunk George Clooney, 60, intends to buy out Derby County, nicknamed the Rams and managed by ex-Manchester United star Wayne Rooney. The Academy Award-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 went into administration last September and is struggling to stay out of relegation following a 21-point deduction for allegedly breaching accounting rules.
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 heartthrob was reportedly introduced to the club by Derbyshire-born actor Jack O’Connell in 2015 while they were filming the crime thriller Money Monster.
During the interview, Clooney said Derby County was "a great football club with a fantastic history and I am sure there is a great future too. I know there have been problems in recent times, but nothing that cannot be fixed and – under the circumstances – the team has been working really hard and playing well." He continued, "My interest in soccer has certainly grown in recent years and a few years ago I was asked if I would like to be involved with a group of others looking to buy Malaga Football Club in Spain. It was quite an exciting prospect but ultimately it fell through." He then added, "Perhaps owning a football club is the next best thing to playing for one… Maybe, one day." While 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 takeover offers for the club was that same evening.
Bernard Bale, who conducted the original interview with Clooney, told the Daily Mail that reports about the actor leading a takeover of the club were "perhaps overblown" but that he "wouldn't put it past him." Bale explained, "Clooney is not short of money, he is a fun guy, he does love sport and he has followed Derby County for a number of years. It wouldn’t surprise me if just for the hell of it he said, 'Yeah, I’ll throw in £1 million' or however much it might be. He’s quite an off-the-wall guy."
English soccer star Rooney was reportedly surprised by reports of Clooney looking to buy his club. A Derby spokesman did not deny the claims but said it was up to the club's administrators to decide on matters like potential ownership. This 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 key investors in Premier League club Norwich City, according to the Mail.