How’s this for some international/domestic news on a beautiful Saturday morning?
For those who didn’t know, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer jumped into the English Premier League three years ago when they became shareholders of Crystal Palace FC. CPFC is on a run of six years in England’s top flight and entered Saturday 13th in the table and eight points ahead of the relegation zone. Despite record revenue being generated in 2016-17 and netting record sums via the league’s two most recent multi-billion dollar deals, Harris and Blitzer have reportedly chosen to cash out:
— Scott Soshnick (@soshnick) March 8, 2019
CPFC is by no means a huge club in England, but a team in the EPL that stands somewhat safely out of relegation has value. So why should anyone in Philly care? There happens to be a local team that has repeatedly been hampered by its lack of competitive funding: Philadelphia Union.
There’s no evidence whatsoever that Harris and Blitzer have any interest in purchasing or even investing in the Union. However, with the team in their tenth season – one that was met with a bit of excitement following the club-record signing of Mexican international Marco Fabián – it remains clear that the team owned by Jay Sugarman is being forced to play with tough financial restrictions. While Sugarman was quoted prior to the season stating he provides $10 million per season for a sporting director to work with – formerly Earnie Stewart and now Ernst Tanner – that’s simply not enough to compete in MLS. For example, MLS Cup winner Atlanta United paid a record $15.05m transfer fee for Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez prior to this season. The year before, they paid a then-record $13.99m fee for Ezequiel Barco. Toronto and NYCFC have also completed transfers in recent years that nearly matched the Union’s entire annual budget.
The long-held belief in Union circles is that Jay Sugarman wouldn’t look to sell the team until MLS Expansion is complete. Could he entertain bringing on Harris and Blitzer as investors with an eventual sale in place? Anything is possible. One thing is for sure: the intent to sell Crystal Palace FC will ignite the powder keg of rumors once again.