The big soccer story on Monday was not an American soccer story. Rather, it was the battle for Manchester and the Premier League lead when Manchester City hosted Manchester United as the EPL nears the end of the 2011/2012 campaign. Although the match took place in England, the significance of the game was evident in the United States, and that makes this proper fodder for a blog covering the business of American soccer.
The game was highlighted on the front page of CNN.com (the main site not CNNSi.com) with a lengthy piece about the impact of the match and the way the event was being celebrated around the country. Bars and pubs opened expecting sizable crowds to watch the game, despite the mid-day start time. Employees took late lunches or arranged early departures to ensure a seat to watch the game. ESPN pumped the match with fervor despite a very busy time in the American sports calendar. Twitter was alive with commentary about the game from soccer and non soccer media. The game was featured on mainstream sites such as USAToday.com, New York Times and elsewhere.
So what is the business significance? Even in the three plus years that this website has been in operation, the change in soccer prominence has been readily apparent. While there are still plenty of soccer “haters” among mainstream sports fans (try listening to east coast sports radio when soccer is raised), the game is continuing its creep into the American consciousness. Soccer continues its rise as a marketable property and a potential source of revenue. Over the next couple of months, every EPL match on the last day of the season will be broadcast in the United States, each Euro 2012 game will be available on standard cable television, Olympic Soccer (despite the absence of the USA) will be telecast and games from Spain, Germany, Mexico and the United States will be readily accessible on major American networks. The game is rising fast in the United States and American sports fans seem willing to climb aboard.
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