Liverpool Takeover Moves Premiership Closer to NFL

Now that Liverpool FC has accepted the takeover offer from American businessmen George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks, is it a time of celebration or concern for Reds fans?

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.

6 thoughts on “Liverpool Takeover Moves Premiership Closer to NFL”

  1. Being from America and having no rooting interest for any one club in particular, one of the best and most unique aspects of the league, for me, is promotion/relegation.

    I may be in the minority, but doing away with such a mechanism would cause me to have less interest in the EPL.

  2. Well said JC. I grew up in England and the thought that one day the Premier League would ever do away with Promotion and Relegation would kill off 150 years of a critical element of why we love this game. I just hope the guardians of the Premier League get it written in stone that the Promotion/Relegation feature is non-negotiable in the forthcoming contracts. Imagine the team in 20th position of the premiership,
    early on in the season just playing out their fixtures in a sloppy way but knowing that they’ll never get kicked out of the League ? That would be unthinkable.

    Baz, NY

  3. As an American who loves watching the EPL I would hate to see the end of the relegation/promotion feature. I think it is one of the most interesting aspects of the competition and helps keep it lively and fresh. As for American football I can’t think of anything positive the NFL can contibute to he EPL. The NFL is like one big commercial with a bit of sport sprinkled in. So boring. I hope America can become more of a player in international football without screwing it up in the process.

  4. I just can’t see promotion/relegation being phased out in the Premiership…it would alienate the UK base of fans and you would end up with stagnate teams that never win at the bottom of the table (i.e. the Arizona Cardinals & Detroit Lions in the NFL).

    I would go so far as saying that it is merely sensational journalism to suggest that promotion/relegation could somehow be phased out. A European Super League though…that is something more plausible…

  5. One of the most exciting aspects of the premiere league, along with most other European soccer leagues, is the relegation/promotion system. Seeing teams battling for survival in the top flight at the end of the season provides exhilarating entertainment that would otherwise be drag affairs with teams having nothing to play for in a locked in system. Just look to baseball; the bottom teams play 80 or so meaningless games at the tail end of a season that no one cares about.
    Instead of the debate being about the EPL adopting an American league system, our leagues here in the States should experiment with the relegation/promotion system

  6. Restructuring the EPL without relegation/promotion would greatly diminish the competitiveness in all sections of the league. The bottom teams would have nothing to play for in the final third of the season and nobody would have any reason to watch them. Consequently the bottom teams would get less TV exposure not more.

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