Television host Kelly Ripa and actor Mark Consuelos are buying a minority stake in a small Italian football club, becoming the latest celebrities to invest in a sports team.
The couple is buying a piece of Campobasso 1919, a club in the fifth tier of the Italian football system, and will play a role arranging sponsorship deals and marketing. They have also had talks about producing a show about the team, though there are not yet any concrete plans, Consuelos said in an interview. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Lower-tier football clubs are attracting a wide set of new investors seeking to run a sports team without shelling out billions for a top franchise. In many countries, these clubs have growth appeal because they can earn a spot in a more prestigious and lucrative league.
“It’s fascinating that a team with a small stadium can be promoted and be playing against these giants like Manchester City or Juventus or Milan,” Consuelos said. “I love the idea of an underdog story.”
Some investors have already had success investing in small teams, building hype for the practice. In 2020 actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham AFC, a Welsh football club. It’s now featured in the FX docuseries Welcome to Wrexham. Earlier this year, a group of U.S. crypto investors acquired fourth-tier English club Crawley Town FC. In the U.S., at least four Major League Soccer clubs have lured celebrity backers, and the National Women’s Soccer League’s Angel City FC has a long list of Hollywood stars in its ownership group, led by actress Natalie Portman.
Campobasso, located in the city 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Naples in southern Italy, was purchased by New York public relations executive Matt Rizzetta’s North Sixth Group LLC in 2022. The century-old club’s predecessor was declared ineligible to compete by the Italian Football Federation due to administrative failures. Under new ownership, Campobasso is now restarting from Italy’s lowest professional league and aims to return to the upper levels.
“We’re starting at the bottom,” Consuelos said. “The only way to go is up.”
Ripa and Consuelos will also take a small stake in second-tier team Ascoli FC through North Sixth Group.