Personally I feel it’s a time for restrained glee. The Americans have a strong track record of spending a lot of money to create success, so Benitez should have plenty of resources to strengthen his side in the summer.
As long as the shareholders accept the takeover, this will be the third Premiership club out of 20 that will now be owned by Americans. But how many more EPL teams are likely candidates for American tycoons?
There were talks last year about US company Polygon being interested in Newcastle. Reading’s chairman John Madjeski has publicly mentioned that his club is for sale. Will Dubai International Capital divert their attention to a club such as Arsenal?
In this week’s The Game podcast from The Times (check out the paper’s redesigned web site, by the way), football expert Gabriele Marcotti raised a very interesting point when he mentioned that the Premier League is heading to a NFL system where it’s a closed-door policy of 20 teams with revenue sharing occuring. Marcotti raises a extremely valid point.
On the Premiership Community message boards via EPL Talk, many of the American fans of Premiership clubs have been discussing the comparisons between the NFL and EPL. I’ve stayed out of the debate up until this point because I honestly don’t care about the NFL one iota. But from a business perspective, there is a lot to admire.
The direction that the Premiership is heading in definitely is leaning towards a NFL structure. It’s very self-serving of the Premier League and a sign of the greed culture that’s now a huge part of this game that’s been instilled in the league, the players and the owners.
The shame of the matter would be the other 72 clubs in the Football League in Britain. With their dreams dashed of winning the golden ticket and promotion to the Premiership ending, this would create a massive separation between the two — and a “us” versus “them” mentality.
If this scenario did happen in a few years, I predict the FA Cup would become even more meaningless than it is now for many Premiership clubs. The Premier League clubs wouldn’t feel they should stoop so low to play with the “paupers” in the lower leagues, and would continue to follow Arsenal’s blueprint of developing their youth players in these lesser tournaments.
The overall impact of a NFL-style Premiership would be a wider global appeal while the supporters in the UK would feel more disenfranchised than ever before with higher ticket prices and more prawn sandwich eaters.
The irony in all of this is that we, as the viewing public, will get better TV coverage than ever before and more programming to watch as the worldwide appeal grows. It’s one of those unfortunate circumstances where we would welcome it with open arms, which would further perpetuate the crisis by feeding more money to Premiership clubs via increased revenue from bigger TV rights deals.