A virtual 'dating' site is putting small businesses in touch with famous sports people – and it’s been made possible by a law firm.

Manchester practice JMW Solicitors has signed up 150 stars to use its Barn Door UK platform where they can endorse, promote or invest in entrepreneurs who have signed up their business. The individuals include Premier League footballers and Olympic gold medallists.

The idea was the brainchild of partner Marc Yaffe, who set up the secure service last year to put parties with mutual needs in touch with each other.

‘We found entrepreneurs in the early stage of growth encounter problems of funding and brand awareness,’ said Yaffe. How do they get their brand heard when the costs of Google promotion or being sponsored on social media are so high?

‘Equally, when sports stars retire they can end up with debt, drink [problems], divorce and depression. They lose the network of advisers and agents but they still have high profiles and are instantly recognisable. The idea was to connect them with businesses so they have a succession plan for life beyond sport.’

With more than 50 businesses, including in the health, nutrition and sports sectors, signed up to the platform, the website has already facilitated a number of connections, endorsements and investments. Later this month, former Manchester United winger Quinton Fortune will put his name and brand into one football coaching business which will be scaled out across the UK.

The service is confidential, free to use and run by JMW. All parties are encouraged to seek out their own due diligence and professional advice, particularly if monetary investments are being made.

The full-service firm itself hopes to benefit through bringing in other commercial legal work from the businesses or private client work from the sports stars, such as conveyancing, matrimonial matters or wills and trusts work.