When a Bunch of Bloody Yanks Came for English Soccer – Generic English

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Edens isn’t daunted. Over dinner one night, he told me about a hotel that he recently built in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The project included a club where members could store skis and have their cars parked by valets. Everyone, including partners, told him it wouldn’t work. “A lot of the locals said, ‘That’s not Jackson Hole, that’s not true to our heritage,’” Edens said. “ ‘We’re not Vail. We carry our own stuff.’” He disagreed. “Who thinks carrying your three young kids’ ski stuff through a parking lot is a good idea?”

Edens proceeded with the ski club. “And people love it,” he said. “It’s completely sold out. And that’s how I feel about some of the other things that we’re doing now.” While he said that he is respectful of the club’s long history, he added that it’s “OK to change things a little bit. The Kiss Cam may not be the right way to do it. But other ways might be.”

At the end of April, Chelsea played Aston Villa in Birmingham. What was once a novelty, a match between teams with American owners, has grown commonplace; there will be 72 such games this season. That number, the most ever, could increase significantly if certain results fall into place. Three teams move into the Premier League from the level below each year: the top two finishers and the winner of a tournament involving the next four. (To make room for them, three teams also drop out.) Going into the last weekend of April, Leeds United, which belongs to the San Francisco 49ers’ owner Jed York and his partners, was in second place. Ipswich Town, owned by an American investment firm, was third. And Shilen Patel, a Tampa entrepreneur, recently completed the purchase of fifth-place West Bromwich Albion.

If a proposed sale of Everton to a Miami-based firm is approved, as many as 13 of the 20 clubs could be owned by Americans next season. That’s one short of the two-thirds supermajority that would have the power to remake the Premier League along the contours of, say, the N.F.L. A cap on player wages could be imposed, which would greatly benefit the competitive prospects of midsize clubs like Aston Villa. Gate receipts and the income from merchandise like shirt sales could be shared. Even the promotion-and-relegation system that has formed the basis of English soccer’s organizational system for more than a century could be eliminated. Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player and now a commentator on Sky Sports, has called American owners “a clear and present danger” to the game’s “fabric.”

And yet, some degree of evolution toward the American model seems inevitable, whether Americans are involved or not. If clubs are being run these days less like the corner bar and more like complicated international businesses, it’s because that is what they have become. When the Glazers agreed recently to sell 25 percent of Manchester United to Sir Jim Ratcliffe, a lifelong supporter of the club and the chairman of the INEOS chemicals group, for $1.3 billion, he proposed replacing Old Trafford, as close to hallowed grounds as there is in English soccer, with a 90,000-seat stadium. In doing so, Ratcliffe was acting like an American, as one commenter put it, responding to a BBC article.

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