Among the many unseemly aspects of the news that the self-proclaimed ‘Big 5’ had been caught discussing a breakaway European Super League, was the fact that they were discussing it with Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins. It led me to wonder why it is that it’s primarily the NFL’s worst owners who are most interested in the Premier League. (I’ve also written about why I think the league might actually be a good idea.)
Following this morning’s splash in The Sun, the only thing funnier than the hasty backpedalling of the ‘Big 5’ over the Euro League is the thought of Stephen Ross successfully running a sporting event. This, after all, is a man who, in seven seasons in charge of the Miami Dolphins, has overseen not one winning campaign and not one play-off appearance – giving one of the league’s grandest clubs the joint-seventh worst record in the whole NFL.
Incidentally, the teams in third, fourth, fifth and sixth on that list are the Cleveland Browns (formerly owned by Randy Lerner), the LA Rams (prop. Stan Kroenke), the Jacksonville Jaguars (plaything of multisport mega-dunce and Fulham owner Shad Khan) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (run by a family of asset-stripping gnomes called the Glazers).
Which brings up a troubling question. What does it tell us that the worst, least successful, most money-orientated NFL owners are the ones apparently most interested in the Premier League?
Why, instead, doesn’t the Premier League seek out the views of Robert Kraft, the most successful owner in the NFL? Here is a man who already owns an MLS team and has a genuine love of football, yet turned down the chance to buy Liverpool, not because he didn’t crave it, but because he saw it was a league that rewards profligacy rather than responsible ownership.
Or why not ask the Rooneys, owners of Pittsburgh and six-time Super Bowl winners, about the rule named after their family? It’s the gold standard for tackling racial bias in managerial hiring – an issue the Premier League still refuses to address.
Or how about the Maras, who founded eight-time champions the New York Giants? They recently gave their coach four years’ grace in missing the playoffs because he’d won two Super Bowls. It was unseemly, they felt, to shitcan a great servant, even one who was clearly past his best.
All these people, each with decades of ownership, know what it takes to build a club and a league. They are patient, long-termists dedicated to doing things properly and growing their sport.
But, no. Instead the Premier League has become a magnet for the NFL’s worst people – the avaricious entryists who could recognise an under-priced asset at 1,000 yards but couldn’t so much as see a beautiful sunset without wondering if there’s a way of charging people to look at it.
These, then, are the people prodding the Premier League like a side of meat – rich men who’ve contributed nothing to the league and who are so busying trying to get richer, they appear not even to recognise that the NFL goose that lays their golden eggs was raised on values that are anathema to them. Values like mutuality, fairness and competition.
They’ll fit right in over here.
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