Russell Crowe’s Leeds United?

There has long been an Australian connection with Leeds United, with former Socceroos Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell making names for themselves in Yorkshire. However there’s a new Australian who could become a hero in the north of England, with media outlets whipped into a frenzy following a very vague indication of Russell Crowe’s interest in buying the Championship club.

The recent media speculation linking Leeds United and Russell Crowe has reached a level of hysteria that I did not expect to see. Newspapers in Australia are running with the story in a level of coverage here we have not seen since the club were a top Premier League side, and the Aussie first-teamers were running rings around opposition defenders. The Sydney Morning Herald has even gone as far to title their article ‘Russell Crowe’s dalliance with buying Leeds United.’

This has all come from tweets between a fan and Crowe regarding buying (or at least buying part of) Leeds United. While he replied to the fan asking others thought if it was a good idea it would be wise for United fans to not read into this more than some savvy attention cultivation from Russell. We also need to keep in mind the reasons he was in the UK. His rugby league team South Sydney were competing in the World Club Challenge tournament. And perhaps of more interest why media space would help the actor is relevant to Russell being in the process of promoting his recent film The Water Diviner, touching on an Australian father seeking his sons involved in the battle at Gallipoli.

Aside from his tweet, which may have been less than serious about buying Leeds United, he did take time to give some advice about having a fan interest on the board. Crowe is a part of a fan ownership model at his rugby league club and does have a background and insight around how it can work and why it is important. A short series entitled South Sydney Story is available to watch on YouTube which provides a back story onto how their fan ownership/board occupation is situated and how it came about.

Russell Crowe taking ownership of Leeds United could be fantastic for the club, with a high-profile owner with cash in reserve taking it on as a sporting commitment rather than a business investment, though I do think we need to sit back and put on our reality glasses. Crowe may be a fan of Leeds United and attributes the days of Revie and his boys dominating pitches across England and Europe to aligning him to the club. Though Crowe is a smart man, he knows how to work the media and is a good operator in drumming up interest in what he wants people to be interested in. Every article is making reference to his rugby league team South Sydney and at least a parting acknowledgement of his new film. This is free advertising and branding for the man affectionately called Rusty, but a man that is sharp as a tack.

His job is done now having heated up the media and followers of Leeds United to a nice simmering level of newspaper and social media coverage. His ‘interest’ may now drop off and leave United in the same situation before his tweets. The global interest in the club was nice to see, but Leeds United are in a situation where they need long-term commitment at ownership level – not someone exploiting the club for their own personal gain.