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J.J. Watt and wife Kealia invest in Burnley F.C.

5-time NFL All-Pro and recently retired J.J. Watt announced this week that he and his wife, Kealia, have formally invested in English soccer club Burnley F.C.

The Watt’s investment makes them ‘minority investors’ of the 140-year old club located in the northwest of England, approximately 30 miles north of Manchester. 

Burnley chairman Alan Pace, who hails from California, purchased a majority stake in the club in 2020.

Pace shared a photo of the Watt’s holding personalized Burnley jerseys on LinkedIn with the caption “Some great news to share!” J.J.’s kit donned the number ’99,’ the same number he wore throughout his illustrious 11-year NFL career with the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals.

Burnley, who also go by the nickname ‘Clarets,’ have already clinched promotion back into the English Premier League by winning the EFL Championship title. 

You can expect to see J.J., Kealia, and perhaps others at Burnley’s Turf Moor next Premier League season.

What to know about Burnley F.C.

After being relegated from the Premier League following the 2021/22 season, the club needed a reset.

The Clarets had just enjoyed six seasons in England’s top flight, including a spectacular 7th place finish in 2017/18 behind longtime manager Sean Dyche. Just five years after finishing in the bottom half of the Championship – the second tier of English soccer – Burnley qualified for the Europa League, and looked to be a mainstay in the EPL.

After finishing seventh, the club came 15th, 10th, and 17th in each of the next three seasons, the last of which was a major flirt with relegation. Come the 2021/22 season, Dyche’s 10th with the team, their time was up.

Burnley finished 18th in the Premier League and was relegated to the EFL Championship.

Enter Vincent Kompany.

Kompany, 37, is a Premier League icon, having won four titles with Manchester City over 11 seasons, eight of which he served as club captain. 

The Belgian scored what many consider the PL title-clinching goal in 2019, a right-footed rocket from outside the box in a 1-0 win over Leicester City in May 2019. 

In June 2022, less than one month after being relegated, Kompany was hired as manager of Burnley.

Eleven months later, Kompany has led Burnley back to the Premier League and was named Championship manager of the season. 

Other notable Americans in English soccer investment

The most notable recent example of American stars getting involved in soccer clubs is, of course, Ryan Reynolds’ and Rob McElhenney’s investment in Welsh club Wrexham A.F.C.

The Hollywood stars were pictured regularly at Wrexham matches this past season, producing one viral moment after another as Wrexham earned promotion into EFL League Two – the fourth tier of English soccer.

Former Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also owns a minority share in Burnley as of 2021, per Front Office Sports.

Lakers star and NBA great LeBron James was early to the EPL investing game, purchasing a 2% stake in Liverpool FC back in 2011.

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