Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy has invested in United States football by buying a stake in New York club Rochester Rhinos.
The team was established in 1996 as the Rochester Raging Rhinos, featuring in the United Soccer League. The team has not played in four years, but hope to make their long-awaited comeback in 2022. Prior to their hiatus, the Rhinos won four national championships and stand as the only team outside of the MLS to have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy in 1999.
Vardy is now the second Premier League player to invest in United States football after David Beckham, who is currently a part-owner of the MLS expansion side Inter Miami CF.
"I'm really excited to be part of the Rhinos," Vardy said. "I've been looking at opportunities in the United States for a while, but there was something about Rochester and the Rhinos just felt right.
"I love the story of the U.S. Open Cup win, and although the club has been through some difficult years since, in a way that makes this more appealing to me."
Vardy joins owners David and Wendy Dworkin, who also part-own the NBA's Sacramento Kings.
"Once I started speaking to David and Wendy - and we've had so many conversations via video calls - I could see how enthusiastic they are about the Rhinos, and I knew that I wanted to get involved and try to play a part in helping to turn things around.
"It won't be easy, but I never do anything the easy way in life."
Despite investing in the club, Jamie Vardy reiterated that he will remain with the Premier League side Leicester City. Vardy was famously a key part of the team’s Cinderella season in 2016 that saw Leicester miraculously lift the league trophy. Internationally, Vardy holds 26 England appearances. Co-owner David Dworkin is excited to have Vardy and his experience on his side.
"Aside from the experience, knowledge and profile that Jamie will bring to our club, one of the things that has really shone through during our discussions with him is how incredibly passionate he is about this project," he said. "Jamie absolutely shares our desire to give Rochester a successful soccer team again."
The Rhinos are set to appoint Vardy's ex-V9 Academy project leader Lee Tucker as the team’s sporting director while seeking candidates for the head coach role.