August 12, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Futbol?

I am so ready for Football season. And, No. I don't mean NFL. I'm talking Barkley's Premier League Football which is England's top soccer league. I have been preparing myself for the start of the season for the last couple months. The season kicks off this Saturday.

The top teams in the league are Chelsea (champions from last season), Manchester United (they are basically the Yankees of the Premier League, most championships, top players, worldwide fan base), Arsenal, & Liverpool (although they had a so-so year last season).

This is my first year following the league so I've spent the past few months trying to decide who would be my team. I chose Manchester City. I guess if Man U is the Yankees, then Man City would be the Mets. They haven't won anything in like 40 years. Which is hard to do because each year there are like 4 different championships a team can win (I'll explain later).

I'm digging Man City because they are up & coming. They have a new Arab owner who is filthy rich buying lots of good players. And when I read about the team it said that their fans have a saying..."Typical City" which they say when the team lets them down again. That's almost the same as saying "Same Old Jets", so I knew they had to be my team.

There are 20 teams in the league. They play 38 games. 1 game a week. Each team plays each other team, home & away. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season wins the league. 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw.

What's crazy is that while the season is going on there are other tournaments going on at the same time. There is a Champions League where the top 4 teams from England play other top teams from other countries in Europe. Then there is the Europa League where other top teams that didn't get into the Champions League play for that championship. Plus there is something called the Carling Cup. So even though a team has 38 premiere league games, they could end up playing 20 or 30 more additional games!!!

At the same time whenever the National Teams play a match (England, Italy, Germany, Brazil, etc...) they will call up their players to play in that.

Imagine, for instance, the Dominican National Team saying "We need Pujols, Arod, Robbie Cano & David Ortiz" DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE BASEBALL SEASON!!! But that's what happens.

Then you have this thing called relegation. The bottom 3 teams in the Premier League each year get relegated to the Championship League (not to be confused with the Champions League) for the following year. Which is like the minor leagues. The top 3 teams from the Championship League get promoted to the Premier League. Teams can make a lot more money in the Premier League through TV money and stuff so being in the Premier League is very lucrative.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Pirates, Orioles & Royals could get relegated?

Some other crazy stuff about the Premier League:

1) The Kits (Uniforms) - The teams will have home & away uniforms that don't even match. They may wear Blue & White at home and then wear Orange & Yellow on the road. Makes no sense. Plus they don't have the team names on the uni's. Just the sponsor name. So, Manchester United uni's say "AIG" on them. Arsenal says "Fly Emirates". There is even a team, I forget who, that is sponsored by a Sports Betting service. So their uniform says "188BET" on it. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?

2) They call trades "transfers". If you want a player from another team that is still under contract you have to pay his team a "Transfer fee" first. It could be 20 million or more. Sometimes they do actual player for player trades but usually it's done with transfer fees.

3) You can also do loans of players. It works like this. Say the Yankees have a young player, Jesus Montero. He's their catcher of the future but he's not ready to take Posada's place and he's too good to stay in AAA. Imagine if the Yanks could loan him to the Royals. The Royals would pay all or just some of his salary while they have him, he'll be their catcher and probably be better than any catcher they have. Jesus will get valuable experience and the Yanks can call him back once the loan period is up. That's what they do in the Premier League and basically all soccer leagues around the world.

All the top soccer leagues in the world are under FIFA so you can do loans & transfers with other country's leagues. Last year the LA Galaxy of the MLS loaned Landon Donovan to Everton in the Premier League. He actually played pretty well and Everton reportedly would like him back but the Galaxy don't want to let him go again (not for the same money anyway).

4) Malcolm Glazer, owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owns Manchester United. Tom Hicks, former owner of Texas Rangers, who let team almost go bankrupt, owns Liverpool (and yes Liverpool is having money problems, too). Randy Lerner, owner of the Cleveland Browns, owns Aston Villa. Stan Kroenke, owner of Denver Nuggets, owns Arsenal.

Last month, there were reports out that the New York Yankees ownership were interested in purchasing Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. It is said that Hank Steinbrenner is a big fan of the club. I haven't heard anymore since, but that was right around the time that The Boss died, so maybe that deal got put on the back burner for a while.

First match is Saturday morning at 7:45 on ESPN2. To quote Cartman from an episode of Southpark, "I'll be watching. I know many of you will be, too."


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