39th Game Has Traction Amongst US Owners?
The issue of a Premier League 39th game just won't go away and it's now being suggested that the Premier League's US owners could be the main proponents behind the latest push.
Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore was speaking back in August about the 39th game proposal, and he admitted at the time it remained an option, but certainly wasn't on the agenda as although a supposed growing number of top flight sides had expressed an interest, the reaction of fans left Scudamore 'licking his wounds' and he knew it was an idea that still wouldn't be greatly acceptable to fanbases around the country.
Scudamore did say over the summer though that the 39th game, if it ever came to pass, would not be a competitive league addition, it would be a pre season, international break, post season friendly deal but wholly Premier League led.
The BBC carried quotes yesterday from the man behind the International Champions Cup pre season tournament and he admitted his promotions company wants to host Premier League clashes in the United States.
Charlie Stillitano, executive chairman of Relevant Sports, pointed to the success of the ICC friendlies but also posited that there was something to be learned from the success of exporting NFL games to England, and he believes it certainly hasn't gone unnoticed by American owners of Premier League clubs.
'It seems like half the season is played in England. That's what NFL owners look at. And don't forget, you have a couple of NFL owners that own teams in your Premier League. When they see NFL teams play in England, they think maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for our team to play somewhere else, to bring the gospel there We have our hand up. We'd love to host these games - but it's up to the leagues and confederations.'
Again, a friendly setup over a weekend or some mini cup competition is one thing, but a round of fixtures? There's just not the appetite for that amongst fans - although fans seem to continue to be the forgotten element of modern day football - and there are no comparisons to the NFL in my humble.
American Football (Throwball) is a series of franchises that have demonstrated time and time again they will jettison their fanbase if a State doesn't give them exactly what they want or for a whole variety of other reasons given the laws and the organisation of this game.
We sort of tried that the other decade with the rebranding and relocation of Wimbledon FC into MK Dons and that remains a thorny subject for many involved and that was only a 56 mile switch. NFL clubs can move to an entirely different State or just agree a merger.
That cannot happen in real football. There are many major derby clashes across true football, pick your own three derbies at random - Rangers and Celtic, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, Liverpool and Everton - can you imagine those sides groundsharing like AC and Inter Milan at the San Siro?
Fair enough Crystal Palace groundshared with Charlton Athletic and Wimbledon for a period of years in the past, but that's the only example that comes to my mind but there must have been a few other instances in the past - but that's the point, in the past?
Can you imagine them merging or Liverpool moving to London, Birmingham heading off for Aberdeen and so on?
I'm a huge fan of American Throwball as a sport but to think you can compare the two in anyway just to extrapolate that America or anywhere else around the planet should get their hands on a 'league' fixture just because they see a huge cash windfall and want to put their thumb in that pie for the own benefits - when I was growing up fans around the country seemingly had the same chant for am opposition goalkeeper taking a goalkick and that seems entirely appropriate for the above scenario when you add an 's' on the end.
And that's certainly something you wouldn't see in the NFL everytime a quarterback lobs their version of a rugby ball on.
Yes it would no doubt be hugely successful and a fantastic moneyspinner and that's why Stillitano (and he's far from alone) want their share of it, but whilst most Premier League fans are lucky enough to see their side and their new signings only once thesedays during pre season, don't clubs already spend enough time abroad chasing the money whilst talking brand awareness?
Stillitano continued on to say that billionaire owner of Relevant Sports and the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross's attention had certainly been caught - hence him speaking about the subject.
'Our owner refers to the Glazers and Stan Kroenke as partners. The NFL mentality is one of true partnership. They've certainly talked among themselves about things like this happening. People get excited when they see the real thing live. Now, there are the league rules, there are regulations - so I could never speak for the Glazers or Stan Kroenke - I'm just saying, from our perspective, we would love to have regular season games.'
Well you can continue to 'love' the idea and admire it from a distance, as I remain pretty sure there's more chance of Donald Trump posting something even mildly sensible on Twitter and not insulting the disabled, or anybody sexually or racially, ever again than there is of a 'true partnership' between Manchester United and Arsenal in the NFL sense as described.
Different countries, different sports, different fans - stop making everything about money because for a fan it isn't - although granted for monied men you can see the attraction.