English soccer twitter and media are abuzz in response to Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s thoughts about injecting more cash and attention to the English soccer pyramid through creative ideas like a North vs. South all-star match.
Hate Boehly or not, such fresh ideas can’t come soon enough to the tired and stale soccer landscape across the pond. Like the monarchy, many of the features and rules of English soccer are in need of retirement to make way for fresh and new traditions that speak to the cultural dynamism and tactical sophistication of the world’s game. Boehly’s creative brainstorms are needed, despite the ready-made resistance from many in the old guard.
I keep saying it but the quicker we get the Regulator in the better. US investment into English football is a clear and present danger to the pyramid and fabric of the game. They just don’t get it and think differently. They also don’t stop till they get what they want!— Gary Neville (@GNev2) September 14, 2022
Of course, I have my own suggestions for how to improve the game.
1. Every English team, no matter the size, from say the Vanarama National and above should be required to have at least two American players on the roster. Not only do American players bring physicality and style to their teams, but their cultural influence will also enhance the relevance of English soccer on the world stage.
2. More playoffs are needed. Playoffs are exciting to watch, which is why English soccer has incidentally loved their cup competitions and can thank American sports for the idea. The final eight teams at the top of the Premier League, for instance, should have a playoff at the conclusion of the season, with the winner claiming the Premiere League Championship.
3. Broadcasts could use more American commentators. Americans, simply put, understand soccer at a higher level and, therefore, can help fans grasp the complex patterns and stories at stake during a 90-minute match. Such a move also broadens the diversity and appeal of the sport to a new generation of fans.
4. Relegation candidates should get a draft pick. One way to help balance out the game, even for those teams that struggle at their level, is to give them a high draft pick to use during the offseason. This draft pick can be used to select a player in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, adding capable young talent to their squad, or sold for allocation money which they can use to lower salaries and entice star players to their team.
5. I agree with Boehle that an All-Star game would be fascinating. It would highlight some of the great players from lesser teams who don’t get prime-time coverage. It would also give a chance for excellent fun events like skill challenges and trivia contests among players to see who knows the most American soccer history. It’s worth a try, right?
6. Last but not least, promotion and relegation is a fun and fascinating aspect of European soccer in general, but perhaps the Premier League should consider an alternative. How about rewarding the teams who stink the most and punishing those who win the league? Just a thought.
Frankly, things are dire. The sooner we act, the sooner the culture changes for the better.
What American ideas do you think would improve English soccer?