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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Yanks vs Brits: Malcom in the middle

Animosity between Americans and the British is nothing new. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the near border war of 1846 all helped forge the American identity. Since the mid 1800s, despite political closeness between the USA and UK, rivalry has persisted between citizens of the two nations.

The latest flap is over Floridian (and thus a Yank to the Brits) Malcom Glazer's buyout of the world's favorite football club, Manchester United. The Brits are hurling every anti-American stereotype at Glazer- that he won't appreciate the football (soccer) played, or that he will make the club a symbol of American type commercialism, and that he'll break away from the FA (Football Association) ala Notre Dame and sign his own TV contract. The fans of Manchester United have been protesting in the streets of the city and threatening to not renew season tickets. As one of the few Americans who watches the FA Premier League on a regular basis, I was incensed that the Brits could be so intolerant of Americans like myself. Do they all think we are just Hollywood, and Madison Avenue?

I initially supported Malcom Glazer, but after reviewing in my mind his tenure as owner of the Tampa Bay Yuccaners (the Bucs for those of you in the Tampa Bay area) I realized that the Brits are correct about Glazer and his intentions.

In 1996, after Malcom Glazer bought the Buccaneers and Tampa Stadium, he promptly changed the Bucs uniforms from the traditional colors which represented Florida to a marketing scheme intended to get gang members and others who like Raiders to buy Bucs merchandise. Glazer also renamed Tampa Stadium, Houlahan's Stadium to promote his restaurant chain.
The Bucs had 5 straight winning seasons but yet they fired Head Coach Tony Dungy and ran off General Manager Rich McKay, whose father was the original Head Coach of the team, and who himself had been a ball boy for Bucs in the mid 70s. McKay was the essence of the Tampa Bay franchise, and he is considered by many experts as the best player personal man in the NFL. McKay's new team the Atlanta Falcons finished last season 11-5. Dungy's new team the Colts finished the year 13-3. And the Bucs? They finished 5-11 and if not for the pathetic Miami Dolphins, they would be the Yuccaneers all over again!

Malcom Glazer is motivated by the bottom line, not tradition and not winning. Period. Manchester United deserves better, and the reputation of American soccer fans deserves better in the UK, than what Malcom Glazer will do for it.


Joe said...

I agree. I hate the new Bucs uniforms. I don't care what happens to Man U because I don't follow soccer, but Glazer as you said Kartik did ruin the Bucs image with that awful pewter, and skull and crossbones symbol. It's lucky for Glazer that the team won the first few years, but traditionalists such as ESPN's Chris Berman have siad the old Bucs uniforms were among the best ever and would like them to switch back.

Anonymous said...

The Bucs changes were overdue. The team had a stale image and had been losing for years.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.