You read that headline right. Hector Bellerin becomes a League Two club’s second largest shareholder, stunning fans up and down the nation.
In an interview with The Athletic, the Arsenal defender has revealed he has taken a minority stake in Forest Green Rovers.
The Gloucestershire outfit, owned by green energy industrialist Dale Vince, have been recognised by FIFA as ‘the greenest football club in the world’.
? “I played a friendly against FGR about six or seven years ago. That was the first time I came across them,” @HectorBellerin
— Forest Green Rovers (@FGRFC_Official) September 8, 2020
The United Nations have also certified them as the first carbon-neutral football club, which has also played a part in Bellerin’s latest move.
They serve vegan food at their stadium, their kit is made from bamboo, they have an organic pitch and are planning to build a new stadium made almost entirely from wood.
Bellerin – who is a vegan, passionate about environmental issues – said he wants to support their ambitions and ideals, aligning with his own.
“Dale has revolutionised that football club — they’re vegan, they’re eco-friendly, they have a neutral carbon footprint,” he said.
“They’re a clear example of how to run a football club in our times so I wanted to be a part of it and offer my help to them in whichever way I could.”
Bellerin, who recently raised money to plant 60,000 trees in the Amazon rainforest, will work with Vince in a new relationship with the aim to help raise the environmental agenda in football among clubs, leagues and supporters.
He continued: “I just felt it was the right thing to start a relationship.
“I’m going to help bring awareness to what they’re doing — helping marketing, helping PR, and helping create a network.
“I wanted to help in any way I could — they’re a massive example and they’re in League Two. They’re getting bigger and bigger every day. Imagine if they get to the Championship or something.
“It feels good to feel part of their family.”
Vince, chairman of Forest Green since 2010, said: “I like Hector’s approach, his personal journey and the things he’s trying to do – they make sense.
“I’m looking forward to working with him on FGR and this wider agenda we have a shared interest in.”
Vince also recently hit back at safety criticism for their new wooden stadium which was given the green light.
Speaking as a guest on BBC Radio Two’s Jeremy Vine show, Vince answered questions about the high-profile much anticipated project, specifically doubts over the safety of building a stadium fashioned entirely from wood.
He said: “Seventy-five per cent of the carbon footprint of sports stadia is embedded in the materials they are made from. Wood is just a good old fashioned building material. Modern timber is engineered to be fire retardant.
“Wood is safer in a fire than steel because steel collapses at high temperatures. Wood simply chars away to destruction, but that takes a long time. Stadia today are designed to be evacuated in a handful of minutes so nobody gets trapped if there is a fire.”
In July 2019, the greenest football club in the world, launched what they say is the world’s first football kit made from bamboo, before going on to take a further step to reduce its reliance on plastic by switching to revolutionary bamboo shin pads.
Fans have reacted after seeing that Hector Bellerin becomes the League Two club’s second largest shareholder…
If Jermaine Defoe really cared about fighting cancer, he wouldnt have funded multiple charities, he would have ended his football career and started working on finding a cure to cancer
— Nikolas?? (@NikolasFCB) September 8, 2020
Well done heccy ♥️ @HectorBellerin
— Robert Downey senior (@irony_man7) September 8, 2020
Sign him for free
— Le Professeur (@TheWengerLegacy) September 8, 2020
Heccy y not invest in our club too?. Kroenke’s giving me cancer
— YaGunner66 (@Amal11714103) September 8, 2020
2020 gets stranger by the day
— Ryan Griffin (@ryangriffin89) September 8, 2020
Sadly the first Arsenal reactions we will likely see to this will be negative and waiting for him to leave. Well done Hector, a very responsible investment, it’ll take the football industry some time but small steps!
— RedWhite_Gooner (@RedWhite_Gooner) September 8, 2020
big Hector Bellerin investing in Forest Green Rovers that’s ma boi ?
— Billy (@1994bjm) September 8, 2020
Surprised that’s allowed whilst he’s still an active player and could play against them in a cup competition
— Chris (@Chelseachemist1) September 8, 2020
Now go spend the season there ????
— Kamale (@dcdougy) September 8, 2020
Good on him fair play
— Alex (@AlexWillettt) September 8, 2020
What the fuck?
— Patrick?? #FreeThiago (@patrickmillslfc) September 8, 2020