Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy has bought a stake in Rochester Rhinos which plays in the US lower league. The club is planning to return back after a long break in 2022. Rhinos were a part of the former United Soccer League Championship club, which suspended operations in 2017. Rochester Rhinos is majorly owned by David and Wendy Dworkin who are also the owners of NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
According to The Athletic, the club is planning to rebrand itself in order to make a comeback next year. Rhinos will reportedly neither play in second-tier USL Championship nor in third-tier USL League One but instead, they are planning to play in Major League Soccer’s planned lower-division league which is set to begin its operations in 2022.
The Premier League and FA Cup winner Jamie Vardy has shown interest in the club and would like to help in publicity and also to create business opportunities. There is also a possibility that the player can play for the club when his contract with Leicester City ends in 2023. The 34-year-old is not the only player who has invested in lower league US clubs in recent years as the list includes David Villa (Queensboro FC), Didier Drogba (Phoenix Rising), Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye (1904 FC), and Paolo Maldini (Miami FC). Rochester United is also one of the only non-MLS clubs to win the trophy in the 25-year MLS era. The club created history in 1999 by beating four MLS clubs to win the US Open Cup.
David Dworkin, the owner of Rochester Rhinos, said, “Certainly for Rochester, this is an opportunity for us to be super special, We have an active player who is in his prime. For us, it’s a really great way for Rochester to take pride in this team — it puts us on the map.”
Dworkin also hinted that there’s a chance that Vardy might play in America after his contract expires at Leicester City. He also added that he feels positive about this deal and is really excited about the future of the club. The city of Rochester, New York, also has another club in the third-tier National Independent Soccer Association named Flower City Union which plans to debut in 2022.