Ponting becomes Altrincham shareholder

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting took time out from his preparations for this week's fourth Ashes test on Tuesday to visit minor league English football club Altrincham after becoming a shareholder. Ponting and several members of the Australia squad, including Brett Lee, watched Altrincham face a Manchester United XI in a pre-season friendly at the humble Moss Lane stadium in Cheshire. Altrincham director Grahame Rowley said Ponting had been given shares in the club last week by chairman Geoff Goodwin in recognition of his interest which dates back to before Australia's previous Ashes tour to England in 2005. "Ricky has become very good friends with our chairman," Rowley told Reuters. "He is pretty clued up on football and even when he's back in Australia will be texting to say well done after a win or what happened if we lose. "Four years ago they all came down to watch a game. Ricky and his team are always very welcome here." Goodwin runs the coach company that is contracted by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to provide transportation for any touring sides. While Australia are here he is even using his own holiday to act as their own personal driver. "Ricky has become a very good friend to me and to Altrincham Football Club. I'll be proud to have him alongside me in the directors' box for the United game," Goodwin told Altrincham's website. Rowley said Australian cricket memorabilia decorated the club while Ponting, the highest run scorer for Australia in test cricket, and his team-mates regularly provided prizes for the club's fundraising activities. "They really seem to enjoy being driven around by Geoff because he likes a bit of banter and he calls a spade a spade. They like that," Rowley said.