We start the week with both a sad farewell and a warm and joyous welcome.
The fond adieu goes out to perennial bad joke G. Pepe Pinton who, as we all know, was briefly the GM of the New York Cosmos, a team which is fondly remembered for almost singlehandedly destroying professional soccer in North America.
For reasons both arcane and irrelevant, Pinton emerged from the huge heaping pile of wasted money, lost opportunities and broken dreams that was the NASL with the "rights" to the name "Cosmos".
He has been pimping said name for the last 25 years as a) the misleading title attached to a soccer camp he runs at Ramapo State in New Jersey and b) something which he's been positive someone would come around eventually and pay him a lot of money for.
Mostly though it just got his name mentioned from time to time as "the man who owns the Cosmos name", something which a guy as utterly irrelevant as he is must surely have cherished.
(It's interesting to note that Clive Toye, the teams' first GM, came up with Cosmos because he liked the name Mets - short for "Metropolitans" - and imitated the form by abbreviating "Cosmopolitans", which in turn is not to be confused with the preferred cocktail of the round-heeled and flat-backed stars of "Sex and the City" who most likely did most of the team way back when).
After 25 years Pinton has finally - incredibly - found a figure even more laugh-worthy than himself to pay him money for the "rights" to a word.
Is this a great country or what?
Cruising the soccersphere over the weekend the reaction to this singular non-event has been nothing short of hilarious, led by COPA NYC - they would have loved to call themselves the Cosmos, but that would have meant paying Pepe Pinton - whose WEBSITE PROCLAIMS THE JOYOUS NEWS:
NEW YORK GETS IT'S CLUB BACK.
The announcement was made at the COPA NYC finals over the weekend by none other than the man who Brazil striker Romario once called "an old retard", Sepp Blatters' favorite lap dog, Pele.
Now nobody wants to pick on the guy but he'd appear at a cat fight for a baloney sandwich and a warm place to take a nap.
(And it's a pity that this phony-baloney crock of crap was allowed to overshadow one of the great amateur soccer events in the US. It deserves better.)
THE BOROUGH BOYS are no less enthusiastic, and provide more detail, although for some unexplained reason when you open that page - fair warning - it auto-launches a recording of Johnnny Cash singing Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
If they were going to pick a song from The Man in Black (God rest) they should have gone with the immortal God's Gonna Cut You Down:
Go tell that long tongue liar,
go and tell that midnight rider,
tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter,
tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Which is as good a way as any to introduce the guy who is now the "owner" of the New York Cosmos, Paul Kemsley, seen here feeling up Pam Anderson in Las Vegas:
Not that Pam is all that choosy about who cops a little feelski, which is a good thing because Kemsley makes Tommy Lee look like a Republican committeeman.
The reports today all lead with the fact that Kemsley was "a former director at Tottenham Hotspur", which is apparently supposed to give him a veneer of footballing credibility.
Strangely unmentioned is the fact that until recently he also owned Selhurst Park, storied home of Crystal Palace. Of course he also "recently" owned a lot of other stuff, a situation which changed when everybody and his cousin sued the pants off of him for defaulting on his loans and the bankruptcy courts seized everything they could get thier hands on.
Now of course a lot of guys lost a pile when the commercial real estate market went into the toilet, although Kemsleys' £500 million "empire" was remarkable for the almost breathtaking and reckless levels of leveraging, smoke and mirrors upon which it was based.
(The THE TIMES ONLINE has a lot more for those of you who've been to Wharton, Kellogg or a good dog track). THE TELEGRAPH has some more, including some skulduggery regarding a $35 million personal loan from Lloyds, some screwed-over partners and $200 million in New York CIty office buildings which the courts are now trying to unload.)
Still, as noted, losing his pants in real estate doesn't make Kemsley unique or even a bad guy. It does, however, make him a lot poorer than he used to be.
Rather, it's stuff like the partnership with shady currency speculators, the deals with a billionaire former Russian Finance Minister and the £3.6 million he owed Spreadex for his LOSING BETS ON THE SURVIVAL OF LEHMAN BROTHERS and the fact that he had to borrow the money to pay off the margin call that make this guy look shaky at best.
So now Kemsley and his "Honorary President Pele" are going to re-inaugurate the Cosmos. They assure everybody that he "still has enough money" to do that.
The plan is twofold: first, they're going to use "the Cosmos name" to start "youth academies" to "develop" young players.
Then they're going to start an "independent All Star team" to play games around the world for a year or two before "joining MLS".
Gosh, what could possibly go wrong?
We'll leave aside for now the fact that "developing" youth players sounds a lot like "signing and selling" same, and anyone who'd opt out of the RedBull Academy in favor of being whored out by a sleazy bankrupt real estate speculator and an aging mentally defective soccer player deserves much better parents.
Let's also skip over the fact that if Kemsley really had $40 million cash to fork over for an MLS side there's a bankruptcy administrator who'd love to hear about it.
Instead, let's focus on the "Independent All Star Team" aspect, because that's where the real comedy is.
1) Who exactly is going to play on this team?
2) Who is going to guarantee their salaries when these "World All Stars" leave actual teams in actual leagues where they're actually paid actual money?
3) Has anyone pointed out that FIFA does not sanction teams which do not play in FIFA appropoved leagues?
4) How long will it take FIFA to issue a permanent international competition ban on any player who appears in a game with a non-FIFA sanctioned team? 30 seconds?
5) Name for me the league team anywhere in the world who will agree to play any such team for any amount of money. Or a referee who will agree to work it.
6) Supposing that the Tooth Fairly leaves Kemsley the money to buy himself an international All Star team, in what alternative universe will MLS be accepting this team into league play in a year or two?
7) Does anyone honestly believe that Don Garber and the MLS Board of Governors will ever, in a million-billion-gajillion years, go into business with this sleazeball? Even if he promises to bring Pele to all the meetings?
I could go on, but there's really no point.
Still not convinced? Then consider this:
A second team in NYC is Don Garbers' fondest wish. If someone with a half a billion dollars showed up and announced that he wanted to field an MLS team in Queens, Don would be there in the front row slugging down champagne, dancing on a table and offering the guy hookers and coke.
Was he there yesterday? Was anyone from MLS there?
Does this not tell you something?
I'm sorry to have to be the one to break the bad news to all those diehard "Bring Back the Cosmos" freaks who've been annoying the crap out of everyone on BigSoccer for over a decade now, but this is not the rebirth of your team.
They will not be assembling a World All Stars team. They will not be barnstorming the globe playing Titanic matches against massive clubs. They will not bring back the glory days, the Golden Era or your youth. They're all as dead as Julius Caesar.
Above all, you can chisel this in marble and plant it on your front lawn:
It will be a cold day in hell before Paul Kemsley fields an MLS team.