The Danger Lurking Behind the Premier League’s Wealth

The subject of whether American sports have enough swearing continues to prompt rather more conversation than Google’s algorithm might expect, with Dan Rosenbaum losing points for citing New York Rangers fans chanting “Potvin sucks” as an example of spite — that’s a bit P.G. for my tastes — but recovering admirably with an outstanding theory about the differing natures of crowds.

“Most soccer fans see the opposition once a season,” he wrote. “Maybe two or three times, in various cup competitions. In baseball, we see a division rival around 10 times a year, in three different sets of games. The vitriol is therefore expended over time, rather than being focused. Except for Phillies fans, who seem to have boundless depths of bile.”

The newsletter regular Shawn Donnelly, meanwhile, has a question. “Chelsea bought Enzo Fernández for a cool $130 million,” he wrote, correctly. “Do they pay Benfica this sum immediately? Or is that payment spread out over a number of years, the way I pay off my Subaru Impreza?”

I’m not quite sure whether that last bit is boasting or a subtle message to Subaru, but regardless: Some Premier League teams, in particular, will put the full cash total down for a deal, often as a way of improving their chances of signing a player they really want. In most cases, though, payments are delivered in installments: perhaps two or three, front-loaded in the first couple of years of a contract.

An inquiry from Brett Jenkins, too, a confessed “novice” fan who is seeking recommendations for “soccer books, fiction and nonfiction.” The first recommendation is, always: Do not read soccer fiction. Unless it is written by Steve Bruce.

Nonfiction is richer territory. It pains me to do it, but Jonathan Wilson’s “Inverting the Pyramid” is probably the precise book you are seeking, but there is a whole canon worth exploring, most of it also written by Wilson, but with noble exceptions from David Winner, Sid Lowe, David Goldblatt, Joshua Robinson and Jon Clegg, and some idiot. I love all of James Montague’s work, too, but my favorite soccer book, by a whisker, is Robert Andrew Powell’s “This Love Is Not for Cowards.”

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