27 July 2007

It's almost football season!

The fresh smell of cut grass, the crunching tackles, and the chants of "The referee's a wanker" lets one know that footie season is again, upon us. As you can see from the links to the right, I'm a supporter of the English club, AFC Wimbledon. Most of you know the history of how this lifetime Chicago Bears fan took up interest in "The Beautiful Game", but for those who don't, let's just say that we can blame close friends and late nights drinking. 'Innit how all good things start?

This season marks the 10th season that I've supported a club from the Borough of Merton, London, England. It's stated that way because of the introduction of "franchising" to English Football when Peter Winkleman bought Wimbledon F.C. and moved them 70 miles to Milton Keynes. From the ashes, rises the Phoenix and AFC Wimbledon was born on May 30th, 2002.

And so we start another season on our way "back" up the Football Pyramid.

But this brings me to my real point for this post. The overhype about David Beckham coming to play for the L.A. Galaxy just gets to me. Last Sunday, I flipped over to ESPN to see his first game and figured he'd be coming on around the 77th minute, (good guess on my part). It's great to have him here and in the sport. I just don't understand what he has to gain by doing this other than being a huge ambassador to the sport in this country (and all that money). I just wonder outside of LA, how many NEW fans he's bringing to the sport since that's what is seriously needed versus whipping the "already faithful" into a frenzy.

In response to the big name signing it seems that the other MLS clubs are trying similar tactics as Cuauhtemoc Blanco appeared against Celtic for the Chicago Fire on Sunday (and scored) and he's a big name out of the Mexican league. So I do think it will elevate the desire to compete with stronger players, but does the MLS do this at the expense of their budgets? If we could get a competitiveness here to keep our own US stars home, that'd be the best long-run strategy (however I like having Americans to root for in the English Premier League).

What is the MLS' business strategy here though? After the initial burst in attendance and influx of cash to the local clubs, what is the two-to-three year vision? I don't hear anything of it and there's no reason for the MLS to keep it secret (again, IF they have a vision), but it's THREE years to the next World Cup in South Africa and that's a long time to try to gain new supporters and build a club that can compete. Remember, it has to be a squad that WON'T have Beckham or Blanco (duh, it has to be comprised of Americans), so unless these moves are bolstering U.S. talent, it's just gotta be "All about the Benjamins". We have to stop roller-coastering in our appearances in the World Cup, otherwise, it's destined to be a third tier sport in this country.

So in the meantime, I'll keep my focus on AFC Wimbledon and our push to be promoted out of the Ryman League Premier League into the Conference South. C'mon you Dons!!!!

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