Chelsea’s new American owner Todd Boehly was given the keys to Stamford Bridge at the end of May but perhaps unsurprisingly, waited just three months before floating the idea of an all-star game in the Premier League. In fact, Boehly has been increasingly vocal about England’s top-flight taking on a number of lessons from how the elite sporting leagues are operated in America.
As you can imagine, the backlash to Boehly’s comments has been instant and strong with many of the usual suspects leading the cries of outrage. Gary Neville tweeted soon after by repeating his call for a regulator to be installed in order to protect the values of English football. In addition to that, Neville went on to say that American investors in the Premer League “just don’t get it and think differently.”
Jurgen Klopp was the other high-profile figure to take exception to Boehly’s remarks by asking if the American wanted to “bring the Harlem Globetrotters as well?”
Klopp delivered this line while speaking to the media following a 2-1 victory over Ajax in the Champions League. The German was naturally in good spirits after a late win but he was clearly dismissive when it came to Boehly’s idea. Of course, the remit of any incumbent manager in the Anfield hot seat is to be vehemently against change of any kind. It is, however, worth keeping in mind that for all of Klopp’s posturing to a fanbase that is anti-establishment, the German did recently call for seismic alterations to the FA Cup, the oldest club competition in the world, owing to the workload on his players due to the congested fixture list.
We don't intend to recall every contradictory stance taken in recent years here, but rather to remember that figures like Klopp have, at times, also requested changes to age-old practices. As touched on, during that occasion, Klopp’s calls for FA Cup reform were to ultimately lessen the demand on his own group of players. Essentially, when we hear revolutionary ideas pitched to the media like this, it’s done to suit a certain position or agenda.
However, in Boehly’s mind, the English football pyramid would be the beneficiaries of an all-star game as any money raised during it would be sent down to leagues and teams who are excluded from the Premier League’s eye-watering riches. On the surface, that appears to be a selfless gesture that would, in essence, transform the way that the English pyramid is run by helping to avoid any more clubs going out of business. Boehly’s concept should, in theory, suit one of his biggest detractors, Gary Neville, who not long ago said that he would die in a ditch for the football pyramid.
It’s important to do business with one’s eyes open when it comes to vast sums of money like Boehly is saying would be generated. Put another way, without being cynical, you also have to ask, what does the Chelsea owner stand to gain?
It’s right that people provide opposition so that a transparent plan is provided to all the relevant stakeholders. One encouraging aspect is that Boehly appears to be trying to answer any questions he gets as honestly as possible, and even said that he couldn’t provide a ‘hard no’ with regards to the prospect of Chelsea joining a European Super League under his ownership.
That may set off alarm bells in some quarters but given how much secrecy has surrounded this ill-fated idea, it is refreshing to hear an owner not provide a soundbite to appease the masses whilst really working tirelessly behind the scenes to join the rebel league. This suggests that Boehly is being as truthful as possible about an all-star game and the parties that will benefit the most.
During this candid interview at the SALT Conference in New York, Boehly also went on to say that he wanted Chelsea to adopt a similar model to Red Bull by owning a few feeder teams around the world so that the Blues had a place to send their younger players to continue their footballing education. With this in mind, it does seem like Boehly is adopting a long-term view at the club in order to bring the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge.
As things stand, the Blues’ title race is all but over with the latest Betway Premier League betting odds, as of the 14th of September, pricing Graham Potter's men at 33/1 to win the Premier League. The league table currently makes for uncomfortable reading and there is a significant amount of work to be done for new boss Potter. There is a chance that the official stats will read differently at the end of the season but whether they do or not, Boehly has gone on record saying that Potter will be given time in the dugout to implement his ideas.
Once again, the American is saying the right things and deserves to be listened to, or at least, given the time to back his words up with actions.
The same logic applies to his idea of an all-star game and anything else he may pitch to the Premier League. Yes, this league needs to be fiercely protected but it also needs to grow and help those less fortunate which is why Boehly’s comments aren’t as outlandish as they’re being portrayed to be.