How to: Invest in sports memorabilia

Manchester United memorabiliaWhether you are fanatic about football, crazy about cricket or mad about motor racing, you can show your appreciation for your sporting idols by investing in mementoes of their glittering careers.

What's more, play your cards right, and you might even make some serious money in the process. Here, we show you how to make money out of your passion for sports.

What's the deal?
Just a few decades ago, collecting sports memorabilia was seen as nothing more than a hobby for anorak-wearing fans.

Now, however, there is a massive investment market with the most coveted items sometimes going for £100,000 or more at auction.

You have to be careful what you invest in, though, as the increase in demand has led to a lot of unscrupulous individuals selling bogus items.

According to some estimates, up to 85% of signed photographs, for example, are forgeries. A spokesman for auction house Bonhams said: "Sports memorabilia can be a fantastic investment.

"However, you should steer clear of mass market propositions such as replica signed shirts. This is because the market is awash with fakes."

So what should I buy?
One of the main benefits of investing in sports memorabilia over stocks and shares, for example, is that you have a tangible item to enjoy while it is in your possession.

As the key to successful investing also relies on doing as much research into the market as possible, it is therefore a good idea to pick a sport for which you have a particular passion.

Other tips include looking out for truly historic items such as a shirt worn during a World Cup final or a match programme dating back to the early 1900s, rather than goods designed to cash in on a specific event.

Where should I look?
As mentioned above, provenance and authentication are key in this market.

For this reason, you should only generally buy from a reputable dealer who can provide a certificate of authenticity and guarantee of a full refund if it is later discovered to be a forgery.

While you can find a wealth of sports memorabilia at auctions and on internet auction sites, you should also at the very least only buy items that you have had the chance to view first hand as photographs and written descriptions can often be misleading.

Remember too that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
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