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Football has faced is fair share of challenges in recent times. From the Covid-19 pandemic, which continues to have lingering impacts on the sport, to the European Super League fiasco which saw fans come out in their thousands to protest and win back the integrity of their beloved sport.
However, threats to this integrity appear to not be going away any time soon. New Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly spoke recently about the potential introduction of an All-Star Premier League match between the northern and southern clubs like Arsenal.
“Ultimately I hope the Premier League takes a little bit of a lesson from American sports,” said Boehly. “And really starts to figure out, why don’t we do a tournament with the bottom four sports teams, why isn’t there an All-Star game?
“People are talking about more money for the pyramid; in the MLB All-Star game this year we made $200million (£173milllion) from a Monday and a Tuesday. So, we’re thinking we could do a North versus South All-Star game for the Premier League, for whatever the pyramid needed quite easily.”
The comments faced immediate criticism. Frankly, the idea of combining Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea players in a club context together, outside of the international football scene, goes against the culture of what the sport has built across its 100-plus year history.
Furthermore, the reference of MLB by Boehly should start ringing alarm bells. Major League Baseball has already made its way across the pond with West Ham’s London Stadium playing host to regular season games.
The idea that not just a potential Premier League All-Star match but regular league season matches could be played abroad is a huge concern for supporters who pay to watch their team week-in and week-out. Fans protested in their thousands against a change to the European scene and a Super League being formed.
The reaction to teams losing potential competitive home games in a season abroad would surely spark an even bigger response. An ironic unification of supporters from rival clubs in their hometowns at the prospect of losing their local sides’ games.
For Arsenal, Josh Kroenke was asked about this prospect at the time of the U-turn made by the Gunners and the other sides regarding the Super League. Josh Kroenke was asked about the trust that had been broken and on whether he could promise that Arsenal wouldn’t play their home matches away from London.
“From a trust perspective I’m not asking you to trust me,” he said. “All of our trust was shredded this week; I fully understand that. That’s why I’m trying to rebuild some sort of relationship with the supporters, starting with yourselves.”
A fan insisted: “Can you guarantee we will never play home matches away from London while you and KSE own Arsenal?” Kroenke replied: “I can guarantee that.”
If Boehly’s MLB reference alongside his All-Star hope is anything to go by, proposals might not be so far off games being played away from home grounds. It will be intriguing to see if his fellow American counterpart stays true to his stance.