What is *Really* Causing the Financial Failure of the English Premier League?

There are many reasons to love Deadspin, the sports website owned by Gawker Media. The idea of grown men getting paid squillions of dollars to play children’s games is essentially silly, so Deadspin’s combination of snark, uncompromising exposés of bad behavior, and withering criticism of the lamestream sports media is so very necessary.

The editorial staff of Deadspin is progressive enough to be ahead of its readership when it comes to covering sports that are growing in popularity but may not yet be on everyone’s radar. Specifically, I’m referring to soccer, played at the highest levels in Europe. Although I rate Slate and Grantland’s Brian Phillips as the best American soccer writer, Barry Petchesky does admirable work almost every week, converting mainstream ‘Merican sports fans to the world’s game by highlighting the sport’s unique excitement and drama.

One of the reasons soccer appeals to nerdy Murrican sports aficionados is that the competitive and financial structure of the sport is rather different than anything we typically see stateside. Teams play in up to four tournaments simultaneously, the best teams play against the best teams from other countries, and the worst teams engage in a compelling dogfight to avoid being relegated to a lower division and an uncertain future. [Read more…]

Some Things We Learned from Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea

Last night’s victory for Chelsea on aggregate in the semifinal of the UEFA Champions League® was one of the great moments in the modern history of the competition and certainly the most historic achievement for Chelsea in Europe.

Although the mighty Barcelona was heavily favored in both legs of the semifinal, Chelsea managed not only to win 1-0 home but also to hold Barcelona to a 2-2 draw at the massive Nou Camp stadium, booking themselves a place in the final in Munich on May 19th. This match had it all: great goals, controversy, red cards, missed penalties, and an unrelenting Barcelona siege on the Chelsea goal that came up empty handed.

What did we learn, besides the fact that everyone should drop whatever they’re doing today and watch the other semifinal between Bayern Munich (who have an opportunity to play the final in their home stadium) and Real Madrid, who vanquished Barcelona in the league last weekend to end a truly miserable era of inferiority to their ancient Catalan rivals (coverage from 2:00 pm Eastern Time on FX, check your local listings)? Mostly that Barcelona isn’t very good.

I keed, I keed!
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Fear and Loathing in SW6: Chelsea F.C.’s Downward Spiral Begins

I used to get really worked up for the semi-annual encounters between the Liverpool and Chelsea football clubs. In the first decade of this millennium Chelsea represented everything that was vulgar and wrong about football. Here was a club that lived well beyond its means for years, was forced to sell the land under its stadium to ensure that property developers wouldn’t swoop down like vultures in the event the club was declared insolvent, and indeed was minutes from being put into administration before being purchased in 2003 by the corrupt, thieving Russian oil & gas billionaire Roman Abramovich.

[Read more…]

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