Sir Alex on growth in America

Discussion in 'MLS: General' started by Fort Rapid, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. Fort Rapid

    Fort Rapid New Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Fort Collins
    Found some comments Sir Alex Ferguson made on the ESPN soccer site. Thought they were interesting and would like to read what you all think.

    ----------------------------------

    And Ferguson feels the distance between teams affects the impact of football on American society.


    'The size of the country makes it difficult,' he said.


    'In European football, and especially in British football, you can travel easily. 'If you are Boston and need to go to Los Angeles it's a six-hour flight. Supporters don't travel so you are missing that rivalry between fans.


    'So you have a problem. To make it substantial you would have to go regional but there's not enough teams to have four strong leagues.'


    Ferguson, who was speaking to an audience at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, feels the MLS is also undermined by an exodus of young homegrown talent.


    'What you have got in the States is that a lot of kids are playing football in the States and there is nowhere to go,' he said.


    'The best American players go to Europe very early, like Brad Friedel (at Blackburn), (Brian) McBride and (Clint) Dempsey at Fulham. So that situation doesn't help the American game.'
     
  2. FijiUnited

    FijiUnited Member+

    Feb 21, 2007
    Orlando
    Club:
    Orlando City SC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The Ferg is probably not used to being so far out of his element.
     
  3. touch line

    touch line New Member

    Jul 3, 2007
    Those are definately factors.

    The fact that Americans, by and large, just don't like soccer that much is probably the biggest factor. That's slowly changing though.
     
  4. KaptPowers

    KaptPowers Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Arlington, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Wow, so uh...who were those guys cheering for Red Bull when last they visited Foxborough? Those guys in orange for the Dynamo a few games back?

    Also, I've never been to Chicago but there's plenty of rivalry there. Just because we can't all go where we'd like doesn't mean there's no rivalry.
     
  5. EdTheRed

    EdTheRed Member+

    Feb 6, 2001
    Loose On The Town
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    Cook Islands
    Yeah, McBride was a real spring chicken when he left MLS...:rolleyes:
     
  6. Earthshaker

    Earthshaker BigSoccer Supporter

    Sep 12, 2005
    The hills above town
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sir Alex's experience is seeing thousands of travelling fans, not a handful.:rolleyes:
     
  7. bigdoug

    bigdoug New Member

    Apr 8, 2005
    I can't see MLS being divided into four separate leagues. Maybe two conferences and four divisions.

    There are some fan rivalries where traveling is pretty easy. NY/DC. NY/NE. LA/Chivas. As you get more teams, there could be Redbulls/NY (second NY area team), Redbulls/NY/Philly, DC/Philly, DC/second NY team, Toronto/Montreal, and Portland/Seattle/Vancouver.

    Sir Alex also ignores existing sports rivalries that could be easily transferred to soccer. Philly and Dallas NFL fans hate each other.
     
  8. SoccerKowboy

    SoccerKowboy BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 13, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yeah, because that's been holding back the NFL for years.
     
  9. Norsk Troll

    Norsk Troll Member+

    Sep 7, 2000
    Central NJ
    The fact that Fergie couldn't name any US players who were better examples of the point he was trying to make (ie - best young talent leaving for Europe early, or at least after only short stints in MLS), such as perhaps Feilheiber, Zizzo, Szetala, Convey, Beasley, Onyewu, Gibbs ... hell, he couldn't even mention his own former players Howard or Spector ... is evidence to me that Fergie really isn't an appropriate authority to talk about soccer in the US. When did he say he was last hear ... the 1970s?

    I mean, Friedel went to Europe "early" because MLS wasn't in existence (tried to sign for Nottingham, Newcastle and Sunderland, but was denied a work permit each time). After a few months with Brondby, and then a stint with Galatasary, he came home to MLS in '97, though he left again to Liverpool in '98, at the age of 27.

    McBride too only went to Germany "early" because MLS wasn't in existence, but he came back for the inaugural year and stayed for 8 years (albeit with loans to Preston and Everton beginning when he was 28 years old). How is that NOT growing and holding onto the top talent?

    And Dempsey at 24 is hardly a "budding" talent.

    EDIT: This thread should probably be merged into this thread, on the new/analysis forum.
     
  10. sharkeyca

    sharkeyca New Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Let's see, Auburn/Alabama, Oklahoma/Texas, Michigan(ha!)/OSU... then you compare, what, Raiders/KC? Come on, the NFL's rivalries are a joke compared to the regional college football rivalries. Now, what separates the NFL from absolutely everything is how television is the tail wagging the dog. Take out TV revenue, there really isn't a whole lot there.
     
  11. SoccerKowboy

    SoccerKowboy BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 13, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sir Alex isn't talking about rivalries, but rather "[soccer's] impact on American Society."

    And regarding your second point (about TV revenue), you've got to be joking. Are you actually trying to argue that professional football is not by far the most popular spectator sport in the U.S.? There's a reason that the networks shell out the type of money that they do for broadcasting rights.

    Sports is a business just like any other, and the major reason soccer is not thriving to the degree that other sports are in the U.S. is quite simply that the demand for it is not on par with other major sports.
     
  12. ugaaccountant

    ugaaccountant New Member

    Oct 26, 2003
    It's hard to say overall, but at least in some regions College football is way ahead. In the southeast your calender is based around attending your college team's games, wheras NFL is something you watch casually on tv. More people in Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Michigan are attending the college games than the pros as well.

    As far as total dollars spent on tickets or total viewers on tv for the season as a whole (not just the superbowl) who knows which is really biggest. I know the college tickets cost a ton more once you factor in the scholarship "donation" required to buy them. And don't most football fans just watch the good matches from both each week anyway?
     
  13. KaptPowers

    KaptPowers Member

    Dec 29, 2003
    Arlington, MA
    Club:
    New England Revolution
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sure, but to say "they don't" as in zero isn't correct either.
     
  14. SoccerKowboy

    SoccerKowboy BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 13, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States

    To answer your last question, no. I live in the DC metro area, admittedly not exactly a hotbed for college football. People rarely talk about the Terps or Wahoos football games. VaTech is a bit more popular, due to the alumni base in this area. But everyone around here follows the Redskins. I don't know how the nationwide ratings compare between college and pro football, so I suppose it's possible that college football could be as popular as the NFL.

    But really I think you guys are missing my point. I [sarcastically] stated that the great size of the U.S. is hurting the NFL, to point out that Fergie doesn't understand the sports landscape here in the States. Plenty of sports thrive and impact U.S. culture in a big way regardless of the size of the country, and for THAT to be the reason Fergie believes soccer is not thriving is a bit ridiculous... wouldn't you say?

    So.... why isn't soccer thriving in the U.S.? Sounds like fodder for a new thread.
     
  15. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    ALL of which are divided up into Conferences/Divisions and play against regional rivals more often than they play against distant opponents. I wonder why that is? :rolleyes:
     
  16. Norsk Troll

    Norsk Troll Member+

    Sep 7, 2000
    Central NJ
    The Redskin's biggest rivals (at least when I was growing up there) were the Cowboys. Hardly a local/regional rivalry.
     
  17. bigdoug

    bigdoug New Member

    Apr 8, 2005
    I think Sir Alex may be too UK focused. The UK has multiple leagues in England, separate Scottish premier league, Wales....It's normal for Europe, but is probably a bit of a mystery to Americans as to why there isn't a UK wide premiership. We're used to leagues spanning the continent with Canadian teams in most of them.

    It's odd that he thinks we can't build up rivalries between teams unless the fans are traveling. Again, I guess another European thing.
     
  18. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    However, it was/is a divisional rivalry (despite the geographic distance; and, because you're a fan of one of these teams, you surely understand the history of these two team being placed in the same division and the subsequent events that developed the rivalry). And it doesn't change the fact that in the United States, overall, teams play proximate teams more often than they play distant teams. Every successful league in this country does this, more or less. Baseball and NCAA Conferences are the most extreme - and successful - examples.

    An open suggestion to anyone reading this: Before you die, attend a Cubs v. Cardinals game, in Chicago or St. Louis. Notice how the 60/40 split (no shit, there are that many "away" fans) in the stands creates and sustains an absolutely electric atmosphere in the park.

    (Additionally, and preemptively, yes, I know about the WAC; so piss off, you're missing the point if you think that disproves the argument.)
     
  19. flippin269

    flippin269 Member+

    Aug 3, 2003
    Houston
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think Sir Fergie's assessment is reasonable. And I agree with him that Beckham alone will not make MLS one of the top 3 major leagues in America. I do think though that Beckham's signing has, and will, make a major impact on MLS and on the sports landscape here.
     
  20. golazo68

    golazo68 Red Card

    May 21, 2004
    I'm shocked that SAF can name Dempsey. He must have left an impression recently (this past weekend?)
     
  21. SoccerKowboy

    SoccerKowboy BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 13, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You seem to be trying to support Ferguson's point, but your statements don't really fit his argument. His point had nothing to do with conferences or divisions; in fact, arguably the most popular soccer league in the world is a single table with twenty teams and ZERO conferences or divisions! Oh, and do any of them play each other more than twice?

    Many NFL rivalries have very little relationship to regional geography, for example Skins/Cowboys, Raiders/Chiefs, Broncos/Chargers, Colts/Patriots.

    So once again I say, Ferguson doesn't seem to have a great feel for American sporting culture.
     
  22. ugaaccountant

    ugaaccountant New Member

    Oct 26, 2003
    Round and round the argument goes. England is small. Italy is small, Spain is small. All of the teams they play in league are close enough for fan's to travel to quickly and cheaply for a weekend game. Each country is small enough that you get both team's fan support, which is what the article was mainly discussing.
     
  23. masterklh

    masterklh New Member

    Oct 21, 2003
    Massachusetts
    I swear man.. Some of you guys need to stop taking every single word as its said.. maybe read into a little. I know its tough, but make an effort. making points about the exact phrasing is pathetic.. He said they don't travel.. he doesn't necessarily mean not a single person travels, hes talking about seeing lots of away fans at games. Just pathetic to see some of the points brought up here.
     
  24. jfranz

    jfranz New Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Portland, OR
    :confused: :mad:

    How old are you? How... oh, God, just forget it. This isn't worth it.
     
  25. CeltTexan

    CeltTexan Member+

    Sep 21, 2000
    Houston, TX USA
    Club:
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The day that a middle aged Scotsman has a clue to what makes U.S. sporting culture tick is the same day WUSA 2.0 expands to 16 teams.
     

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