Times are hard for Farnborough FC.
In 2007, non-league Farnborough Town FC were liquidated, and a new team was created from scratch, with fans voting to drop the "Town" from the name of the new iteration.
The Hampshire side worked their way up to the Conference South, but in April they were placed into administration once again with reported debts of £2 million.
A lowly team in such dire straits probably shouldn't have names such as Lionel Messi, Pele and Jose Mourinho on their payroll, but according to Goal.com, this is exactly what the south coast team are doing, with a little help from the publicity stunt-loving bookmaker Paddy Power:
As part of an unusual sponsorship agreement with bookmakers Paddy Power, the Conference South side have not only renamed their ground and updated their kit – all of their players, as well as their manager, have legally changed their names to those of footballing icons.
Players such as Alan Inns, Matt Ball and Dave Tarpey have swapped monikers by deed poll with greats who played in their respective positions, from Franz Beckenbauer to Paul Gascoigne.
Even their boss, formerly known as Spencer Day, has adopted the new identity of Jose Mourinho.
Paddy Power has a solid reputation for setting up risqué stunts in the name of getting people to pay them some attention, and this apparently extends to getting an entire team to change their names.
In a press release issued by the club on Tuesday, manager Jose Mourinho—formerly known as Spencer Day—said:
“Over the summer it looked touch and go whether we’d even start the season, but now we’ve got by far the greatest team the world has ever seen. Although it’s not all good news, Pelé and Maradona have almost come to blows over who gets to wear the number 10.”
So, Leo Messi will be playing in the sixth tier of English football, and he will be joined by the likes of Gary Lineker, Johan Cruyff and Zinedine Zidane.
Here's the full Farnborough squad list, complete with new alter-egos:
Kevin Ainsley Scriven/Gordon Banks
Joshua Adam Huggins/Lothar Matthaus
Oliver George Treacher/Silva Rocha Roberto Carlos
Adam Hugh Doyle/Paolo Maldini
Alan Francis Inns/Alan Hansen
Paul Jinnah Massaquoi/Marcos Evangelista de Moraes Cafu
Djibril Fofana/John Terry
Thomas Andrew McGarry/Franz Beckenbauer
Reece Nicholas Jones/George Best
Stephen Thomas Laidler/Paul Gascoigne
Merrick Anthony James-Lewis/Zinedine Zidane
Tyrone Michael Justin Berry/Johan Cruyff
Daniel Bennett/Lionel Messi
Reece William Connolly/Gary Lineker
David Charles Tarpey/Diego Maradona
Elvis Zark Hammond/Edson Arantes do Nascimento Pele
Spencer Day/José Mourinho
Leigh James Thomas Dynan/Paddy Power
Simon John Gardener/Sir Alex Ferguson
Roger Leslie Peirce/Terry Venables
It seems hard to believe that a man with a name as cool as Elvis Zark Hammond would ever want to change it, but you can see him become Pele if you head down to the newly named Paddy Power Park this Saturday.