James buys a stake in Reds

BASKETBALL superstar LeBron James has taken a stake in Liverpool as part of a partnership with the club’s American owners, in an unprecedented move that aligns two of the world’s biggest sporting brands.

James, twice named Most Valuable Player in the NBA, has acquired the minority shareholding in the Anfield team as part of a deal that will see Reds owners the Fenway Sports Group market the 26-year-old worldwide.

“Liverpool is one of the most important clubs in all of sports, and I am excited to be affiliated with this incredible organization,” said the Miami Heat star.

Reds managing director Ian Ayre said: “LeBron shares our love of all sports and we are very excited to make him part of the Liverpool family.

“We look forward to working with LeBron, LRMR and FSM, and exploring the business opportunities this new relationship could bring forth both here in the U.K. and abroad.”

The arrangement is thought to be the first time a sportsman with the status of James has taken a stake in a sport team of Liverpool’s global reputation and value.

Fenway Sports Group, headed by John Henry and Tom Werner, bought Liverpool for £300m in October and owns a portfolio of sporting interests including baseball’s Boston Red Sox.

FACT FILE | LEBRON JAMES

The 26-year-old plays in the NBA?for Miami Heat. He moved there in controversial circumstances from Cleveland Cavaliers last year.

In December 2007, James was ranked at No1 in the Forbes Top 20 Earners Under 25 with annual earnings of $27m.

In March 2008, James became the first black man to appear on the cover of Vogue.

Last July James became a free agent and announced live on an ESPN special broadcast that he would be joining Miami Heat, who were offering a salary of $14.5m per year.

Last December he was voted the sixth most disliked sportsman in America.