Todd Boehly’s idea of an All-Star game might have broken the internet and received harsh backlash from fans and pundits but those that it might affect most have been relatively quiet. Outside of the Premier League players that would be playing in the game, almost everyone else in the sporting world has given their thoughts on the event.
Jurgen Klopp was asked about it less than six hours after Boehly’s original idea had been briefly raised at the now famous SALT conference in New York. Boehly’s words, which were given in innocence, have caused quite the stir on the football scene and the new co-owner has been caught amongst a lot of flack.
Largely due to his nationality and the creeping American influence on English football his words were misconstrued and taken out of hand before his sentence had even been finished. One of the loudest and most high-profile critics was Gary Neville, who tweeted:
“I keep saying it, but the quicker we get the Regulator in, the better. US investment into English football is a clear and present danger to the pyramid and fabric of the game. They just don’t get it and think differently. They also don’t stop till they get what they want!”
This itself has been criticised but it hasn’t stopped Neville from commenting further. Ultimately, despite fans and pundits having their say, there is a wider point made by Boehly and it has been picked up on by an EFL owner keen to see where this All-Star game could go. Darragh MacAnthony, Peterborough United owner, has questioned the reaction, saying:
“A lot of people complain that you don’t hear from owners and then you get one that does a QnA or whatever it was an it’s his first public appearance, he talks openly and then from that you get an onslaught.
“I’ve seen the comments. It’s ‘the American this and American that, stick to baseball’ and some top journalists that I’m friends with are absolutely slaughtering him for the idea of the north vs south game. The talking point for me is that is it raised £200-300m to give to the pyramid, that’s the point that a lot of people missed including the snobs, the journalists that moaned about it.”
Speaking on his Hard Truth podcast , MacAnthony, who owns the League One side, picked up part of Boehly’s quote that has so far gone largely unanalysed. The quote in full reads:
“Why isn’t there an All-Star game? People are talking about more money for the pyramid. With the All-Star game in LA this year, we made $200 million from a Monday and a Tuesday. You could have a North versus South All-Star game for the Premier League and fund whatever the pyramid needed very easily. I think everyone likes the idea of more revenue for the league.”
And MacAnthony addressed that, adding:
“Well, as an owner in the league where we get a small fraction of the Premier League money, we’d all be collectively delighted to get that money from a north vs south one off game. “Then you’ve got all the Premier League managers saying ‘where are we going to fit the game in blah, blah, blah’ – cry me a river. You’ve got squads three times the size of ours. If you did a north vs south it’s a choice of 22 playing from hundreds of players.
“Am I against the idea? If it benefits the EFL then see if you can sell the game, see if there’s a TV deal, put the pot on the table and say, ‘look, this is for the EFL, this is why we’re doing it,’ a lot of the players played in the EFL so it’s not the worst idea in the world and it helps us.”
The Irishman has been chairman at Posh for 16 years and owner for 15. During his time Peterborough have been promoted four times including playing three seasons in the Championship. Along the way his team have been a place for the development of future stars with Britt Assombalonga, George Boyd, Lee Tomlin, Saido Berahino, Dwight Gayle and most recently Ivan Toney.
Chelsea have held interest in one of MacAnthony’s current stars as well, Ronnie Edwards. Posh have been forced to sell their stars over the years, including Toney who is a £50m target for Chelsea and would likely be included in a south team on current form if an event was to go ahead, and MacAnthony sees the money raised from an All- Star game as a big bonus for EFL teams.
“What they can say is, if it raised £100m or £200m, we’re gonna put a pot together and a lot of it will go to League One and League Two – who get a lot less than the Championship. By the way, it can only be used to improve the stadia so that ticket prices for fans are cheaper. It’s a win-win for the clubs and the fans. “Why are we dismissing it straight off the bat because the big bad American who’s a billionaire has come up with the idea.”
Boehly’s vocal backers have been in short supply and there hasn’t been much coming from other Premier League owners or even more from EFL characters like MacAnthony that would be serious stakeholders in this sort of position. It’s an idea that, like his other visions, aren’t entirely new and would need lots of work to organise, but MacAnthony’s public position may well help his case.