Transatlantic relations continue to deteriorate at the edges.
English footballers turn to Bull McCabe when a fit Californian lands in town and shouts odds about how the “saaaccer” should organize their business.
And when some words came to them, Unconventional ideas being presented at the SALT . Conference In New York, Premier League players pulled themselves against the crossbar, inhaled deeply and hesitated “Are these the same strangers who created the Premier League?”
Chelsea’s new owner, Todd Boley, hasn’t been shy about making his way into the limelight.
It all started well enough. Initially, he proceeded to follow the cherished traditions of his new club by firing the technical director as soon as possible.
It’s an iron law of the universe that all Chelsea managers spend roughly the same amount of time on the job, regardless of their level of success. Champions League winner Thomas Tuchel’s time came after 19 months and he was removed for not being sufficiently cooperative with the new powers.
It was then reported that Tuchel and the new sporting director had clashed over the former’s understandable reluctance to adopt the latter’s revolutionary 4-4-3 formation, although this story was dismissed by Chelsea, presumably to be dismissed as black propaganda from Tuchel’s camp.
But Boehly has already distracted the pigeons with his free interview in the US, where he threw some ideas on how to raise the “Pre-meere League” from the shadows.
While discussing the conference, he spoke precisely about the “cultural side” of owning a transatlantic sports “franchise”.
Unfortunately, he was quick to ignore this cultural aspect. “I hope the Premier League will learn some lessons from American sports,” Buhle said.
We’ve heard a lot of sarcasm from Boehle’s main suggestion, mixed with anger at his failure to stay in his lane.
Chelsea owner Jamie Carragher described him as “incredibly arrogant”, and Thierry Henry seemed curious about the use of the word “lesson”.
Gary Neville got even more substantial and intimidated about the whole thing, tweeting, “American investment in English football is a clear and present risk to the hierarchy and fabric of the game. They just don’t get it and they think differently.
“They also don’t stop until they get what they want!” he added.
Perhaps it would have been better to advise Todd to whisper his “all-star” idea to a reputable Englishman of decent standing and let him be the public voice of the proposal.
“All-star baseball game tonight, TV coverage is good. We need the Premier League All-Star game as well. Forces we have to talk about and develop.”
So said Rio Ferdinand to the relative lack of irony in 2011. In the wake of Buhli’s intervention, Ferdinand sought to distance himself from this tweet, saying it was a long time ago, and it was initially written on the board.
On paper, it sounds like the kind of idea Gareth Southgate needs like a hole in the head. We’ve heard how the North-South debate has hampered the spirit of teamwork in England’s dressing room under Sven-Goran Eriksen’s laissez-faire rule. The rival clans of Manchester United and Chelsea look at each other warily across the breakfast table each morning, steadfastly refusing to share trade secrets in the service of the national team’s cause.
Maybe you don’t have to worry. By all accounts, All-Star games in the US are increasingly viewed as a low-stakes junk game, and television viewership has plummeted.
Jonathan Wilson suggested that the proposed All-Star game would not deteriorate for long into the Soccer Aid style.
After a few years, the North will probably choose Gazza and the South will let him score.
More interesting than the idea itself is the excessive cultural hostility it has generated. We know that the English football family is notorious for their intolerance when it comes to Americans invading their dictionary.
Even the word “football” is a red flag. Once upon a time, it was possible to pronounce the word “football” in English without someone having to return “IT’S FOOTBAUGH” to you. (The term was coined after all in English schools as a counterpoint to “rugger”). But then Americans started using it – again at the height of NASL – and that was the case.
The Premier League, when launched in 1992, sought to incorporate some of the glamor and glamor of Americana into the presentation of English football, with decidedly mixed results. Most famous were the Sky Sports fan team – the so-called “Sky Strikers” – who were tasked with putting on a pre-match show before Monday night’s game and who were abandoned after one season.
In the past, English football fans owe the late Graham Taylor a thank you for sparing USA 94. Their mobile legions, irritable at the best of times, would certainly not be able to stand it. All these casually indifferent local snobblers skip them mid-match in search of sausage, lamenting loudly at England’s inevitable zero draw with Morocco in the second group game.
It’s been 17 months since the most anti-American outbreak English football has seen in many years, when a ‘Dirty Dozen’ email was sent out stunningly outlining their Premier League plan.
While it was Florentino Pérez and Agnieles who stuck to the project to the bitter end, in England, it was the “Americans” who were identified as the project’s spiritual leaders.
In the wake of the fever, Graeme Souness nearly spoiled the special relationship when he remarked on Sky Sports, “We’re not America. Britain is a proper country.” Graeme has yet to flesh out his ideas about suitable and inappropriate countries in diagram form.
Five years ago, another powerful medium, Charlie Steltano in the US, caused outrage when he was reported to have mocked the idea that Leicester City should be given a place in the Champions League just because they had won the Premier League. (Stiltano later said that he was speaking hypothetically and did not support such an idea.)
The huge number of American owners in the Premier League means that the product will certainly have an increasingly American feel
In terms of the potential for a Premier League revival, Bohle was not final enough to the taste of his English fans. While he has diplomatically suggested that the Champions League was quite satisfactory from his point of view, he missed the opportunity to offer a “no” in the closed leagues.
The entire episode reminds of the person being stripped, no frills the way football still organizes itself. For American emperors like Boehly, there’s no doubt that the premier domestic competition doesn’t care about the concept of “play-offs” with a Super Bowl-style masterpiece at the end of it. The ending of the title race when the first team isn’t athletically caught should shock them as hostile to criminal circumstances.
The sheer number of American owners in the Premier League means that the product will certainly have an increasingly American feel. In the words of Buhli, “evolution will come.”
The All-Star Game may have had a placidity, but rest assured that Premier League owners will continue to look to lessons across the Atlantic when sharing ideas about the future of the English game.
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