The public relations value of having two of the most recognisable faces in sport as part of the bid being led by Sir Martin Broughton to become the next owners of Chelsea Football Club is obvious.
But it should not be understated that Sir Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams are serious business operators in their own right as they near the final years of record-breaking careers on the track and court.
Hamilton’s interests extend from investing in tech startups to opening a chain of vegan restaurants. The seven-time Formula 1 champion, 37, has a property portfolio that spans London, Monte Carlo and a number of US locations and, according to the most recent Sunday Times Rich List, is valued at £260million. That he has been an Arsenal fans since early childhood will have no bearing on this proposal.
Williams, meanwhile, already part-owns a football club – the recently established Angel City in Los Angeles – as part of a star-studded group featuring Eva Longoria and Natalie Portman. In 2009 she purchased a stake in the NFL’s Miami Dolphins along with her sister Venus, the pair becoming the first black owners of an NFL franchise.
Forbes estimates that the 40-year-old has invested money into more than sixty businesses with her net worth about £190million. Through her Serena Ventures investment group the 23-time grand slam winner has recently invested a seven-figure sum in the marketing company OpenSponsorship along with David Blitzer, the Crystal Palace minority owner who is providing significant financial backing to the Chelsea bid.
Hamilton and Williams epitomise the growing number of elite sportspeople determined to live by the maxim of being more than an athlete and, should the bid be successful, they would follow in the footsteps of NBA star Lebron James in taking a minor stake in a Premier League club.
James has had shares in Liverpool since April 2011 with his £6.5million investment now worth close to £40million according to analysts.
All three are vociferous anti-discrimination campaigners and the presence of black faces in circles overwhelmingly dominated by middle-aged white men could carry transformative long-term consequences.
The indication is that Hamilton will take on a formal role to promote diversity and inclusion at Chelsea should their bid beat competition from the other groups, led by US billionaires Todd Boehly and Stephen Pagliuca.
Race has been a significant issue during the sales process. The Ricketts family, who last week pulled out of the race for unspecified reasons, faced intense pressure from supporters owing to Islamophobic comments made by patriarch Joe.
Chelsea have earned recognition for their work around antisemitism in recent years and consider diversity and inclusion as a key area to invest in. The club’s first black player, Paul Canoville, has met with representatives from all three remaining shortlisted groups aiming to take over from Roman Abramovich.