In English football, there are owners, and there are foreign owners. In that latter substratum, we find, uniquely, American owners and Qatari owners. Local sports media sometimes distinguishes between the perceived habits and the perceived ill-effects of each, but most of the time the same broad brush is used to paint both.
So, in the case of the American owner Ellis Short’s “decision” (if it was in fact his and his alone) to sack Martin O’Neill at Sunderland and replace him with Paolo Di Canio, we learn via Steve Coppell, the true nature of the move:
“They don’t understand the history and heritage of British football – there are so many foreign owners, I have nothing against that, but there is a way of doing things in English football that has now gone out of the window.
“For me it is some sort of personal confrontation that has happened after the game and perhaps it was obvious that they are going in different directions.”
So it’s Johnny Foreigner out to quash a centuries old English tradition. Which is what, exactly? Consistency in the managerial role? Coppell’s own managerial history reveals something rather different: four unique spells with Crystal Palace, a stint with Man City he quit after 33 days in charge citing “pressure,” resigning from Brentford because he didn’t get enough to money to spend on players, resigning from Brighton in the middle of a promotion push because Reading offered him a job, a solid stint there that ended with another resignation, resignation from Bristol after four months.
The post-Premier League English “tradition” seems to involve the same cadre of clubs floating up to the first division surface via a well-known local name, only to recede back down again. The same tiny unit of fly-by-nighters who either quit out of shame, quit out of opportunism, or are sacked. The relative nationality of the owner doesn’t seem to affect anything.
That this merry-go-round is now reflected at the highest echelons of English football with its increased numbers of overseas owners doesn’t indicate some sort of malign foreign influence. It’s just…football.
Please note there won’t be a podcast today, but we’ll record one tomorrow if you’re nice.