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Supporters of major English football clubs can be forgiven for harbouring ambivalent attitudes to American ownership. For every John W Henry, under whose yoke an underperforming Liverpool won their first title in 30 years, there’s a John W Henry, who tried it on with that €uropean $uper £eague racket. Then there’s the Glazer family, who have on the one hand leveraged many billions out of Manchester United, but Old Trafford hasn’t yet completely crumbled into pieces so small you could sieve them through a sock, so that’s a plus point of sorts for now. Or how about Stan Kroenke, long eyed with suspicion by sections of the Arsenal fanbase, but damn can that man pair a wide-lapelled pinstripe suit with handlebar moustache. It’s swings and rotary traffic intersections.
All of which is a roundabout way of bringing us to Todd Boehly, the newest dude on the block. Since taking Chelsea off Roman Abramovich’s hands, the US billionaire has embarked on a wild spending spree, throwing obscene amounts of money at things he doesn’t really need, in the manner of a sailor on shore leave, or a billionaire. He’s also sacked a Big Cup-winning manager who didn’t approve of the spree, and as a by-product of appointing a new boss, ruined the early-season fairytale everyone apart from Crystal Palace fans was enjoying. Bored now, he’s called for the Premier League to launch a US-style All-Star game. Flag! Red flag!
“Ultimately I hope the Premier League takes a little bit of a lesson from American sports,” said Boehly, addressing the Salt conference for “global thought leadership” – sigh – in New York. “People are talking about more money for the pyramid; in the MLB All-Star game this year we made $200m. So we’re thinking we could do a north versus south All-Star game for the Premier League, for whatever the pyramid needed quite easily. Everyone likes the idea of more revenue for the league. I think there’s a real cultural aspect, I think evolution will come.” Ah yes, just what this country, with its Brexit, culture wars and hot-button debates about the role of the monarchy, currently needs: another polarising dividing line drawn arbitrarily through it.
It was difficult to gauge exactly how serious Boehly was being, on account of his 1970s newscaster jacket. Checked, and very much in living color, it’s a style you could just about have gotten away with during the hazy golden days of NTSC, providing you turned the contrast dial on your Trinitron right down. But it automatically deflects gravitas in these hi-def times, and the content of Boehly’s speech also compromised him. “He doesn’t wait long,” quipped Jürgen Klopp, eyebrow up, when asked about the scheme. “When he finds a date for that he can call me. In American sports these players have four-month breaks. Does he want to bring the Harlem Globetrotters as well?” Oh Jürgen! Pipe down, for goodness sake, will you? You’ll only be giving him more ideas.
“We specifically and separately confirmed friendly matches could not be played. [We] would like to put on record that we absolutely do not condone this disrespectful and despicable behaviour. There will be an investigation into this matter, in conjunction with the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA, and these two teams will be dealt with in the strongest possible terms” – the Sheffield & District Fair Play League issues a statement condemning Sheffield International FC and Byron House for playing a friendly on the same weekend that tens of thousands of fans around the UK turned out to watch a Test match, rugby union, rugby league, golf, etc and so on.
Premier League clubs will play the national anthem and hold a minute’s silence before all matches this weekend to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Managers have also been told to consider wearing suits and leading their teams out, and there will also be a minute’s applause on 70 minutes to mark the number of years of the Queen’s reign.
The silences were impeccably observed around the Football League on Tuesday, including at Swansea, where Cyril the Swan paid his respects.
“I think Jürgen Klopp may be relieved his Liverpool players did not fly into Ajax like 11 Tasmanian Devils (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs). After all, their fastest speed is only a tick over 8mph, and then only for short distances. Plus their size would have made it tricky dealing with the taller opponents. Mind you, they have a bite on them that would have impressed Luis Suárez” – Jason Steger.
“Regarding Soccer-ball Todd’s suggestion for a North v South All Star Best Players Championship Mega Playoff Money-Spinner match. He’s not really thought this through, has he? A major question to be resolved is for which team the Midlands-based players at Villa, Wolves, Leicester, and Forest be selected. Oh” – Neil Bage.
“Does The Fiver have a new neighbour? I noticed Martin Lewis’s team had a meeting at ‘MSE Towers’ in their most recent missive. Must be nice to rub shoulders with famous folks (which I’m sure he’s saying to himself too)” – Paul Dixon.
Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Neil Bage.
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Kick off your evenings with the Guardian's take on the world of football
Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is now a minority shareholder in Norwich City after procuring 16% of club shares from director Michael Foulger. Whether that will prompt calls for a Championship Home Run Derby remains to be seen.
Danny Schofield’s 69-day stint in charge of Huddersfield Town is over after the Terriers gave him the boot. “The decision was made after Tuesday’s Championship defeat at home to Wigan, which took our record during Danny’s time as permanent head coach to one win and one draw in nine competitive matches,” seethed a rather brusque club statement.
The anxiety at Anfield has eased somewhat after Liverpool’s 2-1 Big Cup win over Ajax. “The way we played, the way we defended, everything was different,” Jürgen Klopp cooed.
Elsewhere in Big Cup … oh Spurs. And oh Barça!
And LS Lowry’s wonderful painting, Going to the Match, is expected to fetch a record £8m next month. Let us know if we can chip in.
“77 BRFC 0-4 ETFC – [Lyle] Della-Verde curls in the fourth and then is sent off seconds earlier for a late tackle” – Enfield Town’s social media match feed sends us down a time-shifting wormhole of Tenet-like proportions during their win at Brightlingsea Regent.
Ben McAleer reckons Gareth Southgate needs to shake up England’s forward line. Without writing a piece containing the two words “Ivan Toney” repeated 450 times, he offers this.
Which footballers have played against sons and their fathers? The Knowledge knows.
And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!
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