Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers to take part of salary in Bitcoin

The MVP quarterback is partnering with Cash App to facilitate the crypto payment.

“I’m excited about the future of cryptocurrency, and am a big believer in Bitcoin,” Rodgers said in a release from Square, the parent company of Cash App.

Cash App is an app-based money transfer service that allows people to send and receive money. People can also buy and sell stock shares, as well as Bitcoin, using the app. Pro football athletes are starting to invest in Bitcoin. Earlier this year, Kansas City tight end Sean Culkin became the first NFL player to convert his entire salary in Bitcoin.

In the video posted to Rodgers’ official social media accounts Monday afternoon, the star quarterback is wearing a Halloween costume. Rodgers dressed as action movie protagonist John Wick. The video starts with Rodgers taking a drink, then looking at the camera to say, “Bitcoin to the moon,” before going over the details of his partnership and the sweepstakes.

The week-long $1 million Bitcoin social giveaway campaign began at 1 p.m. PT on Monday and runs through Nov. 8.

Kevin Durant’s Swagger trailer dunks on youth basketball for Apple TV Plus

Apple’s basketball drama is inspired by the life of the NBA superstar Brooklyn Nets player.

Young actor Isaiah Hill stars as Jace Carson, a young basketball phenom with a bright future on the court. Shinelle Azoroh plays his mother, while O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays a former star player now coaching youth basketball. The youngest ever Oscar nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis, appears as another talented young player. Durant is credited as an executive producer alongside showrunner Reggie Rock Bythewood, the writer and director behind Shots Fired.

The first three episodes of Swagger premiere Friday, Oct. 29 on Apple TV Plus. Each new installment of the 10-episode series will then follow each Friday.

Sling TV’s new Barstool Sports Channel arrives just in time for kickoff

The channel will incorporate existing programming from the franchise as well as an exclusive college football show.

The channel will incorporate shows such as Barstool College Football Show, The Pro Football Football Show and the Sling-exclusive The Brandon Walker College Football Show, which “will debut tonight at 6 p.m. ET, and will be live each Monday-Thursday at 6,” Walker said in a blog post.

This week the Locast service, which also offered free, over-the-air to Sling TV subscribers, suspended its service following a court case. As a budget live TV streaming provider Sling TV offers only limited access to broadcast TV.

Read more: How to watch, stream the NFL in 2021 without cable

Olympic medalist reveals how she fixed her kayak… with a condom

It worked. And Jessica Fox’s kayaking has no unplanned pregnancies that we know of.

Fox didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment (she’s a little busy). But while games organizers have given out condoms to Olympic athletes since 1988 (the tradition began in Seoul in 1988 due to HIV and AIDS), things are a bit different this year. Due to the coronavirus, Olympic organizers haven’t wanted to encourage Olympic hookups, so they reportedly aren’t handing out free condoms until the athletes are ready to leave Japan.

Fox’s ingenuity shouldn’t surprise anyone. She now has four Olympic medals, and Team Australia proudly, and accurately, dubbed her “the most successful female paddler in Olympic canoe slalom history.”

“I’m grateful to everyone who helped me get to this point,” Fox said in the Instagram post. “I’m sending all my love and all my gratitude because I felt the support from all over the world.”

Simone Biles wins bronze in the Olympics balance beam final

After withdrawing from other event finals, Simone Biles competed in Tokyo on Tuesday and made the podium.

Simone Biles is one of the best gymnasts the world has ever witnessed.

Read more: Tokyo Olympics: Watch and stream the final week’s games in 4K HDR

Teammate Sunisa Lee stepped in to take the gold medal in the all-around competition, while another member of the US team, Jade Carey, won the gold medal in the floor exercise.

In the wake of her first withdrawal last week, Biles said she wasn’t in the right mental state to compete. “I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a backseat, work on my mindfulness and I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job and I didn’t want to risk the team a medal,” Biles said at a press conference.

“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many,” read a statement from USA Gymnastics following her withdrawal from the individual all-around finals.

In spite of her withdrawal from the all-around and other event finals, USA Gymnastics announced on Monday that Biles would be competing on Tuesday in the balance beam final alongside Lee.

Biles has noted on social media that she’s been suffering from the “twisties” — a phenomenon in which gymnasts lose the ability to tell where their body is while performing twists, making it difficult to negotiate a safe landing. Unlike Biles’ other events, her beam routine doesn’t rely as heavily on twists, aside from her dismount, which she replaced on Tuesday with a double pike.

Biles entered the Olympics with serious momentum. She currently holds more medals than any other gymnastics competitor, with 25 — 19 of which are golds. Biles is one of six women the US sent to the Olympics to compete in gymnastics, alongside Lee, Carey, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum and MyKayla Skinner.

Read more: How to rewatch the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony

Olympic gymnastics comprises four events: vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Now that the beam final is complete, there will be no further women’s artistic gymnastics events at this games.

Following her qualification round, Biles was set to compete in all four of the events. In total, Biles was expected to win up to six gold medals. In Rio’s 2016 Olympics, she won four golds — in vault, floor, individual all-around and team all-around — and performed with such distinction that she was chosen as the US flag bearer at the closing ceremonies.

Biles’ situation and decisions have earned her mass support — and some criticism.

In the US, you can watch the Olympics and all of the above events through NBC. NBC airs edited versions of the Games during prime-time hours, but you can watch the events live on Peacock or on NBCOlympics.com. Viewers in the UK will watch through EuroSport, while Australians can see the games through Channel 7 and the 7plus streaming service.

Biles has become a significant force in recent years: She’s often called the greatest gymnast of all time and, after just her first Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, is considered a top-tier Olympian.

Her accolades go beyond medals. She was named ESPN’s Most Dominant Athlete of the Year (2018), ESPN’s Woman of the Year (2016) and AP’s Female Athlete of the Year (2019).

CNET’s Sean Keane and Katie Collins contributed to this report.

England storms into Euro 2020 final, memes say it’s coming home

Get a kick out of the reaction to the big win. Also, are we seeing double, or were there two balls on the pitch at the same time?

Liam Gallagher, lead singer of the band Oasis, was one of many to tweet the line after the victory.

Since England now moves on to play Italy, Italian fans had a twist on the slogan, arguing that, “It’s coming to Rome.”

It wouldn’t be soccer (er, football) without controversy, and this game had some too. Raheem Sterling of England drew a penalty on a foul that, USA Today notes, “really didn’t look like a foul at all.” That led to the hashtag #DivingHome.

There also appeared to be two balls on the pitch at the time of the controversial penalty. Whoops. Some fans pointed out that when this same thing happened later in the match, play was stopped, but that didn’t happen earlier.

“England invented football so they can do what they want apparently,” said one Twitter user.

The game was played in London, and some tweets suggested that Queen Elizabeth II was working some royal magic with VAR, aka video assistant referees.

There’ll be plenty more social reaction come Sunday, when England meets Italy at noon PT at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Why Naomi Osaka dropped out of Wimbledon: What you need to know

Naomi Osaka intends to return at the Olympics in July.

Osaka has now withdrawn from Wimbledon in addition to the French Open.

Osaka’s current plan is to make a return to professional Tennis is her home country of Japan at the Olympics in July.

“Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision,” Wimbledon reps told CNET in an emailed statement. “We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.”

Osaka’s withdrawal is the latest in a series that began with controversy at Roland Garros.

After canceling press obligations during the French Open as a result of mental health issues, Osaka — one of the top-ranked women tennis players in the world — was fined $15,000 and threatened with expulsion by tournament organizers. Ultimately, Osaka decided to take matters into her own hands and left the tournament of her own volition.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka, 23, wrote in a statement describing her struggles with depression. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”

After initially criticizing Osaka’s unwillingness to meet the press in person and answer questions after matches (see below), Gilles Moretton, president of the French Tennis Federation, delivered a statement on Osaka’s decision to exit the match — a statement he delivered in French and English before walking out of the media room without taking questions from the press.

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate. We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery, and we look forward to having Naomi at our Tournament next year,” Moretton said. “We remain very committed to all athletes’ well-being and to continually improving every aspect of players’ experience in our Tournament, including with the media.”

A stream of support has since come out for Osaka from fans and professional athletes alike. Here’s everything you need to know.

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese tennis player and the current world number 2, behind Australian Ash Barty, having won four Grand Slam championships. Born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka grew up in the US and won her first Grand Slam — the US Open — aged 20.

Since then she has become a global superstar in the world of tennis, holding the position of number one in 2019 and winning three more Grand Slam tournaments.

Osaka is famously shy and soft spoken, but has regularly pushed past this to use her platform for activism. In 2020 she withdrew from the Cincinnati Open to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake. During the 2020 US Open she famously wore a series of masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Tamir Rice to raise awareness during Black Lives Matters protests.

Last week Naomi Osaka posted on her social media accounts, stating she wouldn’t be taking part in press conferences during the French Open, to protect her mental health.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes mental health,” she wrote, “and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.”

In response Roland Garros posted a statement on its website and issued a $15,000 fine.

“Following this announcement,” read the statement, “the Roland-Garros teams asked her to reconsider her position and tried unsuccessfully to speak with her to check on her well-being, understand the specifics of her issue and what might be done to address it on site.

“Following the lack of engagement by Naomi Osaka, the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open jointly wrote to her to check on her well-being and offer support, underline their commitment to all athletes’ well-being and suggest dialog on the issues. She was also reminded of her obligations, the consequences of not meeting them and that rules should equally apply to all players.

“Naomi Osaka today chose not to honour her contractual media obligations. The Roland-Garros referee has therefore issued her a $15,000 fine, in keeping with article III H. of the Code of Conduct.”

In the statement, Roland Garros claimed mental health was of the “utmost importance”, but also posted a now-deleted tweet, that made light of Osaka’s mental health concerns.

In response to the fine and the threat of expulsion, Osaka withdrew from the tournament.

“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago,” she wrote. “I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my wellbeing is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.

“The truth is I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

Osaka wrote that she was already feeling “vulnerable and anxious” about the French Open and the prospect of having to face the press, that she was exercising “self care” by skipping the conferences. Osaka also claimed she privately wrote to the organizers of the Grand Slam tournaments to apologize.

“I’m going to take some time away from the court now,” she said, “but when the time is right I really want to work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press and fans.”

Observers were quick to note that Moretton’s follow up statement expressing his sadness and support for Osaka seemed disingenuous. “The immense irony of the FFT President not taking questions from the media in the wake of this Osaka withdrawal is not lost on anyone,” wrote journalist Ben Rothenberg, describing Moretton.

In the wake of Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open multiple athletes across different sports came out in support.

Serena Williams, who Osaka famously defeated to win her very first Grand Slam recently commented on the situation.

“I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it’s like,” she said. “I’ve been in those positions

“We have different personalities, and people are different. Not everyone is the same. I’m thick. Other people are thin. You just have to let her handle it the way she wants to, in the best way she thinks she can.”

Venus Williams, had a different response. Speaking out on how she dealt with press conferences — during a press conference.

“[M]e personally, how I cope, how I deal with it, was that I know every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can and never will,” Williams said. “So no matter what you say, or what you write, you’ll never light a candle to me.”

Tennis legends like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova — alongside athletes like Steph Curry — tweeted messages backing up Osaka.

“Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs,” said Billie Jean King.

“You shouldn’t ever have to make a decision like this,” said NBA star Steph Curry, “but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own.”

Osaka received support from all corners. Not just for standing up for herself, but for raising awareness of mental health issues.

Calm, an app dedicated to helping with sleep and meditation, is donated $15,000 — the equivalent of Osaka’s initial fine — to Laureus Sport in France, a company that does work in the mental health space.

It’s also offered to the same if any other tennis athletes are fined for taking the same stand in the future.

Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3: Start time, how to watch or stream online

Fury and Wilder face off for the third time today.

Tyson Fury, wearing his “Undertaker” hat.

But in a strange twist, Joshua recently suffered and upset loss to Oleksandr Usyk, which brings much more gravitas to Fury vs. Wilder fight. Maybe this is a fight between the two best heavyweights in the world.

It’s a huge fight regardless, with a bit of drama attached. Wilder has accused Fury of cheating in their second fight, repeating his accusations again in the lead up to this fight, claims Fury has repeatedly rubbished.

Here’s everything you need to know.

The Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder main PPV card kicks off at 9pm EDT (6pm PDT) on Saturday Oct 9. For those of you in the UK that translates to 2am on Sunday Oct 10. In Australia that’s 12pm on Sunday Oct 10.

If you’re looking to tune into the main event between Fury and Wilder, it won’t take place before 11pm EDT (8pm PDT). So set your alarms for then. Depending on how fights on the undercard play out, it could be a little later.

In the US, your best bet is probably to order the PPV via Fox Sports.

But much like the UFC events, the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight is also available on ESPN Plus. But you do need to be a subscriber to the service. This means you’ll not only have to pay $79.99 for the PPV event, you’ll also have to subscribe to the ESPN+ service.

If you’re already a subscriber, you just need to pay $79.99 for the event itself.

If you’re not a subscriber, your cheapest option is to buy a one month subscription at $6.99 plus the PPV at $79.99. But if you’re a sports fan it might make more sense to pick up the one year subscription at $69.99 to save some cash. Another option would be to pick up the Disney Bundle, which gets you access to ESPN+, Disney Plus and Hulu. That’s a deal worth grabbing.

In the UK the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight is exclusive to BT Sport for £24.95.

In Australia the Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight is exclusive to Kayo for £24.95.

Here’s everyone fighting on the main card…

Jake Paul announces he’ll fight former UFC champ Tyron Woodley

The two clashed at Jake Paul’s last fight. Now Woodley says he’ll “take out the trash.”

Jake Paul will fight Tyron Woodley on Aug. 28.

Woodley gave as good as he got, making fun of Jake Paul’s bragging about snatching Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s hat at a press event for the upcoming June 6 fight between Mayweather and Paul’s brother, Logan Paul.

“Dear Jake Paul, keep the hat,” Woodley wrote. “I’m taking your head clean off your neck!”

Jake and Logan Paul first became famous for their internet videos. Jake Paul also played Dirk Mann in the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark. Both Paul brothers have pursued boxing, with Jake Paul boasting a 3-0 professional boxing record. He has fought former NBA point guard Nate Robinson, social media influencer AnEsonGib and former MMA champion Ben Askren.

Tyron Woodley, a former UFC champion, was in Askren’s corner for Paul’s recent victory and clashed verbally with Paul before the fight.

“Easiest fight of my career and biggest purse of my career all in one night,” Woodley said of the Paul match, according to ESPN. “Basically, they brought me in to take out the trash. I can’t wait to shut this b—- up. This is getting done for the culture, the whole MMA community and boxing community, to rid this guy of combat sports.”

The fighters will fight at 190 pounds, wear 10-ounce gloves and fight in a 20×20 ring, ESPN reports. The fight will be distributed by Showtime and air on pay-per-view, with fans expected to be in attendance. No location has been announced.

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”