Clearly it is down to Broadcast revenue. The huge increase in revenue that the Premier League has recently had from its TV partners - Sky, BT Sport and the BBC as well as for overseas rights has provided even more money for clubs to use in the transfer market.
The Premier League remains the number one domestic league but it cannot afford to relax. There is intense pressure from other top domestic leagues and despite its popularity there will be more questions asked about the status of the Premier League if its clubs do not perform better this season in the Champions League. In recent seasons teams from Italy, Spain and Germany have dominated the Champions League.
Playing matches outside the UK will also once again start to become an issue and other leagues will also be considering the upside v the downside of going ahead with this as it will (when it happens) provide a further potential income stream for clubs/leagues looking to break new ground.
Think about how the Premier League grew into such a global powerhouse - it was through the international distribution of their TV rights which many years ago started with Europe, particularly Scandinavia, before extending onto other continents. While the quality of football at the MLS isn't at the same level as the EPL (that's not a criticism - it's a reflection of the stage of the sport's development), using their acquisition of our "former stars" is a great play to help build their global footprint, starting with the UK.
The MLS have had to punch above their weight since its formation - this approach is reflected in their creativity, sacrificing reach over revenue, and particularly in my area, using CRM effectively to get to the end consumer (the fan) - direct communication, sending the right message to the right person at the time time.
Maybe Sky Sports secured these rights for a song - maybe there didn't pay a penny, it's a distribution-only deal, but either way, it's an incredibly smart move for the MLS and demonstrates the strategic view their management are taking to growing their business.
I agree with much of what has been written BUT...
While we all agree that the best players coming to England is a fine thing, the worry is that this new deal will simply see a disproportionate rise in player salaries instead of the investment which is required elsewhere.
Yes, fans benefit from seeing fine players but you only have to look at the stadia to see that the increase in revenues from the last TV deal has not been passed down to visiting spectators. The cost of going to a match now is exorbitant and even the best-run clubs in the Premier League seem to put up season ticket prices regularly.
I was at Arsenal v Leicester City a few days ago and the swathes of empty seats underlines the fact that fans are choosing not to go so often. And that in turn affects atmosphere and doesn't look great on TV.
Add to that the absolutely essential need to invest in the football pyramid for the good of the development of the game and of young players and there is plenty of opportunity to build on the success of the Premier League product.
There is no "extra barrier". What you are insinuating is racism within the game and I see little evidence that there is. Football is hugely integrated, to the point that black players are proportionately more represented, yet I haven't yet seen the calls for more white players in the game. At the end of the day, money and success, make it perhaps the ultimate 'best man for the job' environment. That is why English players don't progress in the face of cheaper, often more committed overseas players.
Black players overcame real obstacles in the 1970s and 80s by simply being good at their job. Before they proved themselves to their own fans, they proved themselves to their managers in training and reserve football. Is it not right that black coaches and managers serve that same apprenticeship, rather than be fast-tracked into roles they lack the qualifications and experience to succeed in? It will be far better for someone like Chris Powell to succeed than the likes of John Barnes or Paul Ince, simply because he has succeeded due to ability rather than his name. Likewise, let's hope that Rio Ferdinand doesn't walk into a top management role and fail, or, God forbid, Sol Campbell simply because he moans in the media about the whole world being against him.
Imposing the Rooney Rule will inevitably become the thin end of a wedge, so let's not even go there. The PC-brigade have enough influence on football as it is.
You are right about participation Andrew, but I'm not sure that is what this is about. I think we have to be looking to better develop what we have rather than simply look to chuck more into the 'sausage machine'. The numbers game is more about the health and obesity issues, not the quality of players coming through at senior level.
I think good facilities, assuming there are enough of them and they are affordable, will help, but the biggest problem is getting kids into football at an early age. When I was a boy, 20-a-side matches on the local common involving kids from anywhere between 5 & 16 were commonplace. Nowadays, nothing happens unless it is properly organised, in part because there is nowhere to play and in part because it isn't seen as being 'cool'. We are lucky in that we have no problem recruiting players, indeed we have waiting lists throughout the club, but we find it very difficult to accommodate a 12-year old who has never played before, simply because he is so far behind. These are the kids that we are losing to the game. Of course, we are still losing them as they discover girls & booze, etc, but that will never change.
For us as a club, it has very much become a case of recruiting young and giving kids a good technical grounding. Player development comes first in everything we do. If players, or perhaps more pertinently, parents, do not like that, then they are free to leave. In our experience, pushy, aggressive, win-at-all-costs parents are one of the biggest reasons kids give up.
FIFA World Cup can't be compared to any national Championship. I love football and, as I lived Germany 2006 as a volunteer, I know that you can't expect the same passions and emotions that only a World Cup could give. But I like national Championships, too, as I'm an FC Inter fan.
Obviously, MLS can't compare with the first European Leagues, but I strongly believe that the interest in football could be improved. They have to focus on the fans, they have to sell not only tickets but experiences. Let the fans be part of the team: they are many ways to do it...