Why Todd Boehly’s North v South game shows he doesn’t understand English football


    Todd Boehly 'biffed' Thomas Tuchel
    Don’t tell British sport to be more American (Picture: Getty)

    At a time when so many people need a laugh, thank you Todd Boehly for providing it.

    The new Chelsea owner, fresh from spending a record amount in one transfer window before immediately biffing his manager, has stepped in the proverbial with both sneakers.

    If there is one thing you should never do, it’s tell a British sport that it should be more American.

    It’s like telling Coronation Street it should be more like Dallas, or Dairy Milk that it should be more like Hershey’s.

    ‘Ultimately, I hope the Premier League takes a little bit of a lesson from American sports… Why isn’t there an All-Star game?’

    To be fair, it’s not the first time such an idea has been floated but this seemed more of a series of scattergun sentences than a reasonable plan.

    The response has been predictably savage, from pundits and fans alike. In the case of the latter, it just feels like another way to fleece even more money from the pockets of so many who can’t afford it as it is.

    Thomas Tuchel was kicked out by Boehly
    Thomas Tuchel was kicked out by Boehly (Picture: Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images)

    Huge ticket prices, pay-per-view or behind the pay wall, possibly even in another country… there’s a long list of reasons to once again say ‘enough’.

    Boehly says the revenue raised could be used to further support the football pyramid, which is certainly needed, but football has enough dosh swirling about to find a better balance should it genuinely desire to do so.

    In terms of the game itself, North versus South was his suggestion, completely ignoring the fact that England has a Midlands. I love that.

    The format is something we can have fun with, even just in theory. Europe takes on The Rest Of The World? Lads against dads? What about having Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney select and manage a team each and off we go? Imagine being the fourth official.

    In reality, given the already bulging schedule, we would be left with a game that had nothing at stake, with players who either wouldn’t want to get hurt because it was the beginning or middle of the season, or couldn’t give a toss because it was the end of one.

    However, dismissing it because it is American is not a valid reason. That horse bolted long ago. Exhibit A, of course, being the play-offs. Since the dawn of time, sports borrow from others.

    Shirt numbers were first formally used in Aussie Rules. I’m a huge American sports fan, baseball in particular, but I’m afraid the buzz of voting for your all-star players, the home run derby and everything that goes with it, just doesn’t translate.

    Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney
    Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney could be managers for a novelty game (Pictures: Getty)

    What are we going to do? A crossbar challenge? A bleep test? It’s apples and oranges.

    Also, we already see more than enough of the best of the best. How many times will Liverpool and Manchester City play each other this season? How many Champions League fixtures will add a little Groundhog Day to your deja vu?

    They do say there is no such thing as a bad idea, which is clearly nonsense, but I do think that changes to the Community Shield would be something I would be less against.

    Money wise, it already does a lot of good, but on the pitch it’s not a match that causes my sporting hairs to stand to attention. With a little bit of reinvention on the pitch, it could actually bring in more money off it.

    What if it was a proper curtain-raiser for the entire division? Two players from each Premier League side picked using playground rules by two selected managers? No two players from the same club on the same team. Team-mate against team-mate.

    Now, that might be a non-starter, because it would certainly be played at friendly pace and working out who to cheer for would cause fans to pass out, but it would create such a pre-season buzz, and I don’t think many would be disappointed to lose what we have now.

    Still, I’m sure there’s a better proposal out there somewhere if, in fact, one is needed at all.

    You see Mr Boehly? It’s not just about what you say, but about how you say it.

    Follow Colin Murray on Twitter.

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