More Than Meets the Eye

So why would anyone be excited - or even care much - that TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR HAS ENTERED INTO SOME KIND OF "PARTNERSHIP" ARRANGEMENT with the Saint Joe Earthquakes?

Aside from the obvious cheap jokes that someone of my high caliber and serious professional demeanor would never stoop to - mostly centered around the fact that bottom of the table Spurs are a perfect partner for not-quite-bottom of the league SJ - on the surface of it all this seemingly amounts to is Spurs hoping to sell a few more assorted geegaws in California.

It may very well be though that the entire point of this exercise has less to do with peddling a few cases of scarves or the inevitable sure-to-be-well-received Tottenham Hotspur Across America Exhibition Tour than it does with Billy Beane.

As I first wrote several months ago, Lew Wolff basically bought in to MLS because Beane, his prize employee, had become a huge soccer fan and, not coincidentally, A SPURS FANATIC and was interested in giving soccer a shot.

And Beane has spent a considerable amount of time over the last couple of years trying to adapt his mantra of cost effective player acquisition to the beautiful game.

Over the last couple of months, it's been hard to avoid the conclusion that at least some of the Quakes remarkable surge, which was due to the summer acquisition of some now-key players, was Beane's handiwork.

So while the British sporting press is chuckling up their sleeves today as they interpret the ambiguous "best practices swap" part of the announcement as "the lowly Spurs are going to send coaches over to America ha ha ha", in fact a good deal of the information flow is most likely going to be headed in the opposite direction.

And "US sports executive showing EPL a thing or two" isn't a concept they can get their heads around. Inconceivable.

But while Manchester United and Chelsea figure the best way to build a team is by going £3 billion into debt, maybe there is another way, and it appears that Spurs are hoping Beane can show it to them.

Perhaps Beane can start by getting them to trade Chirpy for a decent mascot.

Then again, there are some other American soccer concepts getting a look overseas, and one of them is THE DREADED SALARY CAP

Taylor said UEFA is looking at Major League Soccer for inspiration in finding a solution.

“How they handle matters of debt and manage the financial stability of their leagues and their clubs is very interesting,” he said. “Salary caps and certain other financial controls ensure that they have a system whereby none of their clubs or franchises is in any particular financial difficulties.

Naturally, this suggestion brought a chorus of howls from EPL types, including EPL HEAD HONCHO RICHARD SCUDAMORE.

But then, Scudamore is fighting UEFA tooth and nail on a lot of fronts, including the increasingly contentious question of FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF CLUBS which Sepp Blatter and Michael Platini are convinced needs to be curtailed.

He's also having a verbal set-to with FA head Sir Richard Triesman, who has been quoted as agreeing with Blatter and Platini that massive debt burdens could very easily start bringing some famous teams into receivership.

Sudamore, of course, says NO SUCH THING IS GOING TO HAPPEN, although just to be safe he's pushing forward on the SO-CALLED 39th GAME initiative which will, he believes, prove a source of serious cash for EPL sides.

It's hard to say where the truth lies in the kerfuffle over the extent of the debt Premiership clubs find themselves in.

Platini wants to argue that, in effect, borrowing a bunch of money to build your roster is essentially "cheating", but it seems to most people largely a question of ability to pay.

If you have the assets to secure big money loans from banks, then presumably the bank isn't worried about your liquidity, so how is it any of UEFA's business?