I am an American. I live in America. I would love to see more Premier League matches live, as I haven’t had that good fortune in nearly 5 years.
And I think this is a stupid, stupid idea.
According to BBC (and everywhere else), the main points of the plans are:
• An additional round of Premier League fixtures, extending the season to 39 games, from January 2011.
• Four clubs to travel to one of five host cities, with two games taking place in each venue over a weekend.
• Cities would bid for the right to become a host, not for individual matches.
• Points earned from the games would count towards the final Premier League table.
No matter how much I love the Premier League, it is the English Premier League (please don’t sue me, Barclay’s). At least they’re not proposing a disenfranchisement of locals and will make it a 39-game season if they do decide to play abroad, but no matter how much money football brings in, hometown fans, who attend the game, are still the core of the support. And as proven by Liverpool fans during the Gillett and Hicks saga, they can be the heartbeat of a club. [Share LiverpoolFC] [Liverpool Supporters Union]
I feel comfortable enough, as an American and living in the US, to write about Liverpool, the Premiership, and European football from across the ocean. And I still can’t support this proposal.
There are enough games as it is. Liverpool had 58 matches last season. I realize it’s only one more, but when you factor in the far-flung locales and time it takes to travel, it’s more than just another league match.
And there’s enough travel as it is with European competition and international breaks. With the time changes and flights, North America, Asia, and the Middle East can’t even compare to European competition. The only similar comparison is Mascherano’s situation this week, with a friendly against Guatemala on this side of the ocean today and having to travel back for the Chelsea match on Sunday, which Benitez is not pleased about (warning, link also mentions Torres’ injury, so I’m not responsible for broken keyboards).
The preseason is one thing. As is international competition. Despite my dislike of international breaks, especially for friendlies, it’s always an honor to be called for your country. The regular season is an entirely different animal.
Once again, it’s all about money. It’s always about the money these days. Scudamore barely even tries to hide it.
It’s also a slap in the face to national leagues in the countries teams would travel to. Despite my apathy towards MLS, I know tons of Americans, Americans who follow the Prem just as closely, who love the American game. And it’s not as if there aren’t leagues wherever else the Premiership is proposing to play.
Don’t get me wrong; were Liverpool to play in North America, I’d find a way to attend, financial situation be damned. But it still wouldn’t feel right.
If you want more international exposure, get more teams traveling abroad during the preseason. That's when it should be done.
Really, just get me a rational television deal for all competitions (the Champions League and Premiership coverage has improved by leaps and bounds over the past five years, but watching the UEFA Cup, FA Cup, and Carling Cup is still a crapshoot) and decent commentary (too many examples to single just one person out) and I’ll be content. And when I make my next trip to England to see games, it’ll be that much more satisfying.