There’s no denying it, a Donald Trump-inspired ‘drain football’s corporate swamp’ chant has terrace appeal
How will football and other sports fare following this week’s shock US election result?
In 1993, US president-elect Donald Trump bought a football club. Not an English football team like many of his fellow filthy rich American compatriots.
It was an American football team called the New Jersey Generals. You probably have never heard of them because they were short lived.
The Generals were a franchise of the United States Football League (USFL), a league originally billed to play their games in the spring time to avoid a clash with the autumn American Football schedule.
But Trump went to the courts with an anti-monopoly charge against the US sports establishment and pushed for his new league to go head-to-head with the established older, bigger and better NFL.
Trump won, but the upstart USFL soon went to the wall, as did many of the teams playing in it and the thousands of jobs.
If this was ever used as a case study in an MBA course, the USFL venture would list under the heading: “Complete and utter unmitigated disaster easily avoided by a 10-year-old with half an idea of market forces”.
Sport is of great interest to Trump. He likes to own golf clubs and he likes to shoot, like many of us, the sporting breeze, making amateur opinions although only Trump has money and an ego to take his barstool musings so much further.
Earlier this year, The Donald said American Football had gone the way of America – soft, because the liberal elite had taken a health and safety sledgehammer to the game to prevent injuries.
As the 45th president with an insatiable desire to shake up every root and branch of every tree growing on planet earth, sport is bound to feel his imitable touch.
Firstly, the economic and political uncertainty around his election triumph could impact the English Premier League’s top clubs in the US and their hopes of conquering the country.
Trump’s radical plans for immigration could force foreign players to look away from the US. That could see an even greater influx of foreign players into the Premier League, and young English players would find it harder to get first team football.
Last summer, 17 matches involving English clubs were played in the US, the highest of any foreign country. But if visas become an issue at the gates of Trump’s rings of steel, English clubs might decide to head elsewhere.
And even if players are still allowed to enter the US hassle free, the “Trump effect” might still put them off.
The Donald insulted almost every demographic under the sun during his campaign and minority players could view America as an unwelcoming playing field.
Star players nearing the end of their careers and thinking of following Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to MLS might be attracted by Trump’s promise of lower taxes for high earners, but who would want to be seen as selling out for millions under a Trumpian administration, where tolerance of others is limited at best?
Imagine the trolls and the harm to brand David Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard.
And if Trumponomics implode the economy, what will be the investment impact on Manchester United, listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012?
Secondly, as of Tuesday, the US was the clear favourite for the 2026 World Cup. But what if a Trump administration builds that wall with Mexico? How will isolation and segregation affect Fifa’s unifying reason for existence and values?
To beat the ‘Black Dog’, depressed players should get off the shrink’s couch, walk the talk and go fishing
Fifa is considering expanding the tournament to 40 or even 48 teams. How will a US-Mexico-Canada hosting arrangement go down if the nation in the middle is behaving against the spirit of football and has built a wall at one end of the trio? Some football family, that.
Thirdly, will Trump and whoever he appoints as Department of Justice attorney general still consider criminal actions against Fifa for corruption a priority?
Lastly, what about the Trump effect? What if fans – voiceless and forgotten for so long for years over high prices, corruption and a game that seeks to rip off rather than guarantee customer satisfaction and rights – become inspired by Trump’s successful anti-establishment sentiment and set about taking back control. “Drain football’s corporate swamp!” has a terrace ring to it.
There is much at stake and much to play for in Trumpland.