WAG support group helps world’s wealthiest wives – including Billie Mucklow and Tanya Bardsley – manage their ‘botox and bank balances’February 12, 2019
WHERE to buy your fifth mansion, headaches over how to invest a multi-million fortune and who to nip to for a quick Botox top-up… these are some of the tough decisions WAGs face on a regular basis.
So it’s lucky they’ve got an exclusive new support group to guide them through the highs and lows of being a footballers’ other half.
LifeStyled Club is an exclusive group founded by two ex WAGs, Maggie Devine-Inman and Helen Drury, in 2015.
Seeing how Mumsnet thrived, the duo set up an online group to help life run a little smoother for all it’s members, who are all wives or girlfriends of former and current footie players.
Members include Wes Brown’s Real Housewives of Cheshire wife Leanne, Fabio Borini’s wife Erin, Andy Caroll’s Towie wife Billi Mucklow and Nwankwo Kanu’s wife Amara.
There’s also Rachel Petter – whose husband Ryan Mason was forced to retire early after suffering a near-fatal collision during a game – and Matthew Etherington’s wife Steph who helped him through a £1.5m gambling addiction.
‘We’re left to pick up the pieces’
The mum-of-three adds: “We are the ones left to pick up the pieces and bear the brunt of whatever is left at the end of their careers.”
She says there needs to be more education about preparing footballers to retire or being forced to retired if they suffer a career-ending injury.
While the word WAG may make you roll your eyes and think of big hair, fake boobs and designer clothes – the elite club insist they have much bigger problems than most would expect.
LifeStyled founder Helen says while life may look luxurious for WAGs, it isn’t always plain sailing: “With the football wives and partners, they’ll get more stereotyping and criticism just because of the nature of (their husband’s) jobs.
“We wanted a source of advice for women – whether that’s where to live in a new town, or how to get help if your husband has a gambling problem.”
Leanne Brown was a regular fixture on Real Housewives of Cheshire until last year, and is a prominent member of the club on social media.
Real mums but with £5million homes
Leanne recently put her and Ex-Manchester United player Wes’ 11,000 sq ft gated mansion with a pool, stables and five bedrooms on the market for £5million.
She says she’s sick of the stigma associated to being a WAG and the way people are always out to take advantage of you – and often uses the support group for advice.
“We have lived with the WAG stigma for so long,” she says. “People were quick to brand me a ‘sponger’, just for being a stay-at-home mum.”
But rather than swapping tips on how to scrub limescale off the kitchen sink, members like Leanne are also lapping up advice more in keeping with their husbands’ bulging pay packets.
These include where to food shop if you have just moved to the UK because your partner has been transferred from a foreign club.
Dilemmas this Mumsnet-for-WAGs will help you solve include: “My worst experience was doing a whole week’s food shop and wondering why no one was packing my bags? Only for me to realise there is no bag person here in the UK.
“Not only did I look stupid, but super rude! #mortified!!”
The LifeStyled Club – which has been backed by chef and Norwich City shareholder Delia Smith – also gives wealth management tips from “our fave” bank Coutts because “overnight wages can double, triple or more” but “the opposite can happen just as quick”.
On the site, are also posts on pregnancy skincare advice from ex-Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason’s wife Rachel Peters, where to go for botox and the best estate agent for those like Erin Borini, who has moved house five times in six years.
Dark side of footie
And while it might sound like a sorority of ‘blow-drys and Botox’, the network wants to help WAGs tackle the darker problems which plague their men off the pitch too.
This includes providing support for gambling addiction, post-career depression and worries over quickly evaporating fortunes once the average eight-year footie career has run its course.
“We wanted to talk about the unspoken subjects in football,” says Maggie Devine-Inman, co-founder and wife of former Peterborough united midfielder Niall Inman.
Amara Kanu is also one of the 400 WAGs
Maggie continues to explain that while these women seem to have the perfect luxury existence on the surface – designer handbags, five-star holidays and all – at home many of them face much darker issues with their men.
“This is behind the scenes of a lifestyle and industry that’s really private. A different side of football.”
She was speaking on the new podcast she runs with fellow founder Helen Drury, wife of former Norwich City captain Adam Drury, which includes discussions on racism and homophobia as well as mental health and wellbeing.
Helen and Maggie explain that going from an environment where players’ lives are micro-managed by their club, to having free reign, can be scary for them – 40 per cent are declared bankrupt within five years, and 33 per cent are divorced within a year.
As a result, the LifeStyled Club offers extensive advice to its women on how to source help for mental health problems, including addictions for gambling, alcoholism and post-career depression.
One member, Steph Etherington, is the wife of former West Ham winger Matthew who lost £1.5m through gambling in 2009.
“If you’re a high earner, you’re expected to be perfect,” says Helen, on the club’s first podcast with guest Jake Humphrys.
Speaking of watching her husband – who she met aged 17 – try and cope with the pressure placed on him, she added: “If you earn that amount of money, you’ve got to be doubly good to deserve that money.
“The pressure on a footballer – they’ll be harder on themselves than any manager or fan.”
“You don’t just want to be ‘the wife of’– you need to find your passion, your identity”, Leanne adds.
And it seems the LifeStyled Club is simply giving them a helping hand.