By Tom Marshall
Rumblings of change in the structure of the game always crop up in Mexico, but this week one man came to talk to the federation, clubs and businessmen about potential changes.
Former Chief Executive of the English Premier League Rick Parry has been charged with analyzing the structure of the Mexican league and helping to devise a formula to make it the best in the Americas. Parry was a big influence behind the creation of the Premier League, which brought an influx of cash into the English game and, with it, a big improvement in quality.
Parry was initially cautious about criticizing the current state of Mexican soccer though, indicating, amongst other things, that having two championships a year isn’t necessarily a problem. For Parry, even the fact 20 percent of the teams in the Primera Division are owned by television stations isn’t necessarily a problem. Would TV stations in other countries be allowed to own clubs? When Sky TV tried to buy Manchester United in 1999, the government’s monopolies commission said it would simply be unfair competition for a television company to own the country’s biggest club. For Mexico, substitute Manchester United with Televisa owned America.
In fact, Parry didn’t seem to have a problem with anything in Mexico although he admitted he needed time to get to grips with Mexican soccer before making a final judgement.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for Mexican teams (and something Parry should look at) is the lack of an international competition that brings the financial rewards and exposure of the Champions League. The Concacaf Champions League is weak at best with only MLS and Mexican sides really having any quality. Attendances at games are usually poor.
Stimulating a continent wide tournament that includes South, Central and North America may be a logistical nightmare, but would really help Mexico and probably soccer on the whole continent.