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Here come the Americans

Three U.S. owners are finding success in English football.

By JIM TOMLIN
Published May 12, 2007


Hot dogs, apple pie and ... soccer?

It may not exactly flow off the tongue, but a trio of American owners in English football Britons in particular hate the term soccer, never mind that the term comes from British English are on the verge of doing something you wouldn't expect from, well, a trio of American owners in English football.

Malcolm Glazer took the first step toward what Yanks would refer to as a "triple crown" and Britons would call a "treble" when Manchester United won the English Premier League title Sunday. It was the first major trophy for the team since the Bucs' owner and his sons took over two years ago amid protests from many of the club's fans.

The Red Devils can make it a double May 19 when they face Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

The third major trophy up for grabs is the European Cup, in which Liverpool - bought in February by George Gillett Jr. of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens and Tom Hicks of baseball's Texas Rangers - faces AC Milan May 23 in Athens, Greece.

Browns owner Randy Lerner bought Aston Villa at the start of the season. And Stan Kroenke, who owns the NBA's Nuggets, NHL's Avalanche and MLS's Colorado Rapids, seems to be making an effort to take over London giant Arsenal.

What led to the Americans' success? Well, they didn't buy any dog teams - Man U, Liverpool and Aston Villa have 41 titles among them at England's top level. If Kroenke's Arsenal bid succeeds, add 13 more.

Why now? Hmmm, could the EPL's television deal, worth about $5.4-billion starting this fall through 2010, have anything to do with it? Even the worst team in the league is guaranteed about $60-million a year.

And it isn't just Americans who are jumping in. Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea four years ago, spent hundreds of millions and saw the team win consecutive titles in 2005-06 (the club's lone title before then was in 1955). Icelandic businessman Eggert Magnusson took control of West Ham in December, and Portsmouth and Fulham have been in non-English hands for several years.

Across the Pond

So what do the punters (fans) think of all this? A sample: 

On Malcolm Glazer 

Manchester United

"This is a difficult time for everyone who has Manchester United's interests at heart. But if anything, we're more determined than we've ever been because, as each detail emerges about this man and his family, it becomes more apparent just what a danger he represents to the club."

Independent Manchester United Supporters Association vice chairman Sean Bones in 2005, when the Glazers took control of Manchester United

 

"Our weapons are stickers and banners and flags and the power of the consumer. No one is going to get hurt, except where it really hurts, in the wallet."

From loveunitedhateglazer.com, a Web site that encourages boycotts of companies that sponsor Man U

 

"Given all the financial constraints he's been under, we reckon this could well have been Fergie's finest hour."

The IMUSA Web site, heaping praise on manager Alex Ferguson while taking a swipe at the Glazers

 

"All the doomsayers who said we would be in trouble have been proved wrong. (The Glazers) have brought a stability to the club, and stability is the key element of any football club."

Manchester United chief executive David Gill, the day after Man U clinched the EPL title

On Randy Lerner

Aston Villa

"It has been our stance for many years that (Doug) Ellis should step aside, and gladly that is now happening. It is obvious that the club has gone stale and needs fresh ideas and a dynamic board. We feel that is exactly what Randy Lerner and his team can provide."

Jonathan Fear, chairman of the Aston Villa Shareholder's Association Trust, upon Lerner's purchase

 

"He is not only fulfilling fans' dreams, but doing everything in his power to exceed them."

Fear, after Lerner paid to have 6, 000 fans ride in buses from Birmingham to London for a game in November

 

On George Gillett Jr., Tom Hicks, Liverpool

"I am hugely impressed by the way myself and my family have been received here. ... Everywhere Tom (bottom left) and I go it is the same: People are pleased and so welcoming."

Gillett, top left, after a semifinal win May 1 in the Champions League

 

From BBC Sport's Web site

"This is surely the news every Liverpool supporter wants to hear, and it looks like finally, Liverpool FC may be starting the journey back to the top of English football."

Stevo1973

"Congratulations to Liverpool on 'selling their soul' to the Yanks, just like Manchester United did."

Kaleid