American owners in the Premier League have a tendency to divide the opinions of even the most like-minded supporters.
Such is the case at Liverpool, where John W. Henry and Tom Werner's (pictured above) Fenway Sports Group are attempting to bring the club back into the English elite after a few disappointing seasons.
PHOTO GALLERY: John Henry at Liverpool training in Boston
On Thursday, I chatted with Mariner about a myriad of topics surrounding Saturday's friendly against the Reds at the Rogers Centre (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer/Sportsnet), including his thoughts on American owners in general as well as what was happening at Liverpool specifically.
Here is what he had to say:
“I’m a massive fan of North American ownership. Being around some fantastic owners in Robert and Jonathan Kraft [in New England] and now Larry Tanenbaum at MLSE, these guys are extremely wealthy people but they really care about the game. It’s similar to with [American players], there’s a certain stigma attached to American owners: ‘Oh, they don’t really know the game.’ They absolutely do know the game, the traditions, everything about what it means to take ownership of Liverpool Football Club. They know what it means to all the fans. They’re fantastic businessmen.
"If you look at what we have in MLS, it’s single entity and we’ve got the salary cap, which early on – I must admit – was laughed at a little bit by the European clubs. But with the advent with teams going into administration, like Glasgow Rangers which I never ever in a million years would have thought that they would be going into administration, they’re looking at the American model and thinking, ‘You know, this is not such a bad idea.’ When I would go to business conferences before I was head coach and I was director of player development, people would come to me and say, ‘You know, this business model that you’ve got, this salary cap, is not such a bad idea.” A lot of people are looking at this in a really serious way and saying this is a really good way to go. I know for a fact that Liverpool Football Club are in fantastic hands.”
The irony will not be lost on D.C. United fans that without the help of their rivals, the LA Galaxy, there would probably have been no new investor announcement in DC.
New investor Jason Levien, one of the two additions to D.C.'s ownership group on Tuesday, talked about how it was a meeting with good friend and fellow Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Erick Thohir at a Galaxy match in Indonesia of all places, which led to the groundbreaking news for United fans.
Levien was in town for the 50th anniversary party thrown for Thohir's parents last November — "one for the ages," explained Levien — and it happened to be held the same week that the Galaxy made a stop on their Asian tour to face the Indonesian national team, a match set up by Thohir.
"We went to the game, the exhibition and that night we stayed up well into the night," Levien said. "And we really talked to each other and Erick had a strong conviction about soccer. And we shared a passion for it and a passion for MLS and having the opportunity through Major League Soccer to make a difference here in the United States.
"Through the late hours that night and the following days we sort of made a pact to do our best to try to invest in Major League Soccer," he continued. "Quickly our attention turned to Washington, D.C., and D.C. United."
The rest is history, as they say. And D.C. fans will always know they have the Galaxy to thank.
LeBron James’ love for Liverpool keeps growing, so much so that he's now launched his very own Liverpool FC sneaker, the Nike LeBron 9 low.
However the minority owner in LFC seems to have made some big design flaws before the shoes expected release on May 5, the day of Liverpool's FA Cup final match against Chelsea.
The famous “Liver” bird which is the symbol of the city of LIverpool, is placed on the heel of the shoe….but it looks more like a dragon. And emblazoned on the sole of the shoe are 18 logos of Premier League trophies. Yet Liverpool have never won the EPL title.... but they have won the English league title 18 times; which is a completely different trophy.
The original story announcing the sneaker release on the New England Sports Network (NESN) has been removed, after angry responses from Liverpool fans about the botched design.
Back to the drawing board, LeBron.
(Images from NESN.com)
First Kick may be the theme of this glorious, glorious day but the word of the day is "free."
This weekend you can experience MLS Live, our online streaming match service, and our long-running TV package, Direct Kick, for free.
Take a look at this weekend's schedule of games and head to over MLS Live to register for today's free preview. Please note that the usual blackout policies may apply. And if you are an iPhone or iPad user download MatchDay 2012 from the iTunes store, where it is currently a featured app, for viewing on the go.
Awesome stuff, right? Don't say we never gave you anything.
Former MLS & USMNT defender Jimmy Conrad: "What percentage of your players play for the money and how many play for the love of the game?"
American soccer uber-agent Richard Motzkin: "What did you do, Jimmy?"
Jimmy Conrad: "Of course it's for the love of the game."
Jimmy Conrad is a liar. A talented, tall, funny liar.
For a long time, the San Jose Earthquakes were the only MLS club going with a name that dated back to the original NASL. They weren't the first to fully embrace their NASL heritage though (hat tip to the Sounders for inventing that).
But the club is making up for lost time with this year's season-ticket packages, which featuring several nods back to the disco-era Quakes of the past. Among the connections they're making to the earliest incarnation of the Earthquakes are:
- Throwback NASL jerseys to season ticket holders who paid in full by the final home game of 2011
- "EST. 1974" has been added below the collar on the back of the 2012 jersey
- Ticket books include photos, like the one above, from different generations of soccer in San Jose
This is in addition to last year's dedication of the George Best Gate at Buck Shaw Stadium, which will have a monitor playing a loop of Best scoring "The Greatest Goal Ever" for 2012.
It's all good stuff but I'm partial to the old school photos on the tickets. Is there anything more retro-cool than having George Best and Johnny Moore in your hands on game day?
With First Kick only weeks away it's time to start thinking about making all of the necessary purchases that make your season complete.
You'll need your tickets, your new kit and your new, officially licensed MLS gnome for sure. You'll also need MLS Live for those days that you can't make it out to the stadium in your kit with your gnome (they're for good luck).
MLS Live, formerly known as MatchDay Live, is an all-new product for the 2012 season, completely rebuilt and reimagined. MLS Live offers high quality, HD streams in Flash that will be available across multiple devices; one subscription will allow you to access 230+ games via computer, iPad, iPhone, Roku & Panasonic TV’s. That's one price, 5 devices.
And what's the price? $59.99 for the season. Not a bad deal at all.
MLS Live launches soon...very soon. For more information visit MLSsoccer.com in the coming days.
There aren't many jobs in MLS, or for that matter in the professional soccer world in the United States and Canada. So, if you want one, you might as well give yourself the best chance possible by getting the training you need.
For salespeople, that means heading up to Blaine, Minnesota, to the MLS National Sales Center. Founded in 2011 to train salespeople specifically to succeed in the soccer industry, the NSC is like a front-office equivalent to the development academies each MLS club has established.
"We give a 'selling foundation' to aspiring salespeople that will effectively prepare them to sell for MLS clubs," says NSC founder Bryant Pfeiffer. "This is a big contributor to our desire to sell out every MLS stadium."
The NSC is currently looking for applicants for its next session, which begins in March. Trainees accepted into the program, which lasts up to four months, receive a stipend to help offset the coasts of room and board in Minnesota. There are also opportunities to earn commission while attending the program.
But it is the training and the door-opening opportunity that is most valuable. In addition to the real-life sales experience of selling for MLS clubs, trainees benefit from instructional feedback from audio and video analysis and innovative coaching from local improv theatre instructors. After each month, those who qualify are given the opportunity to apply their training through the selling of season, group and mini-plan ticket packages and are offered a job interview with participating MLS clubs.
Already, 60 NSC graduates have gone on to get jobs at MLS clubs.
"Our belief is that the graduates of the program can not only make a fast impact in growing the game," Pfeiffer says, "but also become dominant salespeople at the same time."
For more information or to apply go to www.mlsnationalsalescenter.com.
Eddie Gaven's beard is a sell out! But for a five-year sponsorship deal your beard would be too...maybe even during the playoffs for the right price.