Players Fund scores backing from Ben Stokes and Serge Gnabry

Stokes Fund Image credit: Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock

A new £40m venture capital fund backed by athletic stars including cricketer Ben Stokes and footballer Serge Gnabry has launched.

Athlete-led The Players Fund aims to harness the capital of sporting professionals for investments into seed to Series A startups across sports tech, smart commerce, digital communities and media.

The idea behind the fund is that by bringing together a group of elite athletes, the VC can leverage their experience, access to opportunities and value creation ability to provide an extra boost to new startups.

“By combining our resources, networks and experience, we can achieve so much more collectively than as individuals,” said the England test cricket captain.

“With The Players Fund we provide a structured way for athletes to confidently step into early stage investing and to do so alongside teammates and fellow athletes.”

The Players Fund is a consolidation of a handful of investment groups with backing from various professional athletes including 4CAST, ForGood and B-Engaged.

Alongside Stokes and Smalling in the VC fund are AS Roma footballer Chris Smalling, Real Betis footballer Héctor Bellerín, England cricketer Jos Buttler and Indian cricketer KL Rahul.

“We’re entering a new phase of athlete involvement in enterprise. As athletes seek to better leverage the power of their profile and go beyond endorsement into ownership, the athlete community has been crying out for a trusted destination to invest together into best in class startups,” said Ruari Bell, the managing partner of the fund.