Mr Rich to plough cash into Bedlington Terriers
A BILLIONAIRE investor wants to turn a non-league Northumberland football club into an “international icon”.
Robert Rich – 488th richest man in the world and head of the Rich Corporation in America – is willing to listen to ideas to take Bedlington Terriers as far as they want to go.
Last month the Terriers revealed Mr Rich had visited the club after calling chairman Dave Holmes, saying he wanted to sponsor their shirts.
He had discovered ancestral roots in the area and wanted to see how he could help the town, which bore similarities to his native Buffalo.
Now Mr Rich has revealed he knows many of the Americans investing in Premier League teams, including Randy Lerner of Aston Villa, John W Henry, who is behind Liverpool, and Manchester United’s Glazer family.
Yesterday he told The Journal: “Could the Bedlington Terriers become an international brand – even an international icon? We’re having fun.
“I know all those guys – John Henry and the Glazer family. John Henry came along when we were running minor league baseball.
“I don’t want to be them. [But] we’ve got ideas like having replica shirts made here in America.
“This isn’t my first time at the rodeo – I’ve been in baseball for a long time, so I know the fun you can have with a business. But we’re not in that – we’re helping people who need help.”
Mr Rich is going to sell the shirts via his own channels and at the baseball grounds, where the novelty of a small English club could catch on. He will also contact the many US dog clubs, where the dog emblem and Bedlington Terrier associations could make it a hit.
He also told of his success with baseball teams in a similar position to the Terriers, taking over the ailing Buffalo Bisons and increasing attendance from 28,000 a year to one million a year for the last eight years.
The club has played down the significance of his involvement, explaining the sponsorship figure was nothing out of the ordinary and that they are still focused on their smaller sponsors. Currently his financial help is small, stretching to reseeding the pitch and buying a £30,000 scoreboard.