This fascinating Guardian column by Portsmouth goalkeeper David James highlights an under-covered, under-the-radar story: the growing informal technical links and ever-more-intense mutual admiration society between the National Football League and soccer’s English Premier League.
We know that the NFL would love to copy the Premiership’s global dominance—would love, in other words, to carve out a place beside Manchester United and/or Chelsea in the heart of every free-spending fanboy in Asia and upwardly mobile African urbanite. And we know that a number of NFL owners recognize the financial potential (and restful lack of regulation and oversight) that can be theirs if they buy an English club. For the Premier League’s part, a gargantuan commercial enterprise already adept at staging full competitive games outside its home market, with a tight salary cap and no bothersome relegation structure, must look attractive indeed.
James reveals that connection runs deeper than the boardrooms and nocturnal visions of worldwide success shared by the leagues’ executive classes. Players, coaches and front office personnel are traveling back and forth (mostly, sounds like, from there to here) to pick up training techniques and organizational insight. James sounds immensely jealous of the NFL’s facilities, specialization and technical infrastructure: