I’m sure you’ve heard about it already. . .
“My e-mail box is full with executives at other European clubs saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening’. It marks a fundamental shift in the landscape of North American soccer.
“It’s a big coup.”
That’s Vancouver Whitecaps’ co-owner Jeff Mallett talking about the hiring of a little-known English soccer executive, Tottenham Hotspur executive director Paul Barber as their new CEO. Yep, that’s the news which according to the Vancouver Sun “is making headlines the world over.” Uh, right.
A More Splendid Life is a little more dubious about the magnitude and meaning of this event: “A soccer fanatic leaves Tottenham Hotspur at a key moment in the Premier League club’s development for a league-less Canadian soccer club waiting in the MLS wings?”
Still, it is interesting and somewhat significant in the soccer business world that a young executive on the rise at an elite club (the world’s 11th richest, with Barber having headed up the club’s commercial rise for four years) should leave for an opportunity in North America. It might not have the glamour of a Beckham, but business-wise it does indicate a recognition of the growing opportunities here. Now, somebody will have to break the news about the NASL to Mr. Barber. . .
- Liverpool may have crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage, but don’t worry says their managing director Christian Purslow, they can still hit their budgeted performance target. Many of the British hacks are a lot harsher, with Richard Neale in the Times summing up Liverpool’s poor overall record this season (9-8-3), and Henry Winter pointing out that given this is a game of football we’re talking about, the emotional cost of Liverpool’s early exit is the greatest.
- Portsmouth’s sacking of Paul Hart may not have been surprising, but the general mis-management of the club and what the Independent call the “disgraceful” treatment of Hart on the day of his firing may mean sensible candidates stear clear of this train-wreck.
- The shambles that is England’s World Cup bid is rather gleefully picked over by the press (The Times on England’s new World Cup bid slogan: ‘We hate each other’s guts over here — but please vote for us anyway.’), with Paul Kelso saying that “Only in England could a bid with such manifest advantages — great stadiums, passionate fans, globally revered league — be derailed by an inability to rise above personal agendas and in-fighting.”
- What is it like inside one of Europe’s most hardcore supporters’ sections, Hadjuk Split’s Torcida? One Croatian blogger finds out it’s best to be very careful when documenting it.
- More details are coming out over the purchase by Toronto developer Andreas Apostolopoulos of the Silverdome in Detroit: the unlikely prospect of Major League Soccer showing up at the 88,000 capacity venue is still on the table.
- UEFA provide more details of their own investigation into Europe’s match-fixing scandal: it has to be said the organisation is doing a serious and proper job of rooting out what happened, and is doing so with refreshing openness.
- Missed this one at the weekend, but a rare profile of reclusive AEG owner Phil Anschutz in the Observer is a must read.
The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.