Premier League Soccer Sells Out Yankee Stadium

Howard Goldin

Manchester City and Liverpool, the first and second place finishers respectively in the 2013-14season of the English Premier League, met on the pitch at Yankee Stadium on the penultimate day of July. A sold-out house of 49,653 was the largest crowd to watch a soccer match at the current Yankee Stadium,

Each individual sport usually sees a rise in interest and popularity immediately following a highly publicized international event, e.g. World Cup, Olympic Games. A tournament like the second annual Guinness International Champions’ Cup (ICC) with eight prestigious clubs such as: AC Milan, AS Roma, Inter, Manchester United, Olympiacos and Real Madrid as well as the two English sides that competed in the Bronx on Wednesday night are playing in 13 large stadiums and should attract a total attendance of more than 500,000 fans. Thus, each of the clubs should experience riches entering its coffers at the close of the tourney on August 4. Economics was one powerful reason for these world renowned clubs to play in the U.S. during their pre-season period.

It is also hoped and expected by the soccer franchises throughout this nation that the World Cup and this tournament will increase the popularity of soccer in each of the 13 communities in which the matches are being held. The 2015 season of NYFC was repeatedly advertised on the large screen in center field throughout the game. The two world class players who have been signed by NYFC, David Villa and Frank Lampard, were present to help promote the new club.

Manchester City, last year’s Premier League titleist, edged Liverpool by two points, 86-84, with a late season surge. Despite last season’s battle, each is not the prime league rival of the other in Britain. Baseball fans in the Northeast of the United States may feel differently regarding a reason for rivalry between the two clubs.

Each of the two British clubs, that began its existence in the late 19th century, is currently connected to an MLB franchise that is involved in the greatest sports rivalry in this nation.

In 2010, Liverpool was purchased by the Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox. In 2013, the New York Yankees entered into a financial partnership with Manchester City to become a 20% owner of NYFC, the newest expansion club in the MLS (Major League Soccer). The only New York City club in the league will play its home matches at Yankee Stadium, thus further solidifying the connection between City and the Yankees.

Despite the close relationship between the Yankees and Manchester City, the large crowd was overwhelmingly partisans of Liverpool. The red shirted majority greeted the first sight of the Manchester City players on the pitch with a resounding chorus of boos. Prior to the game, the red clad fans rose to their feet and while holding their Liverpool banners aloft sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, the club anthem. Regardless of one’s enthusiasm for either team, the sight and sound was impressive and even moving.

After the match, the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, was asked to convey his thoughts upon the support for his team among the vast majority of the fans, “It’s just remarkable the support Liverpool gets. It doesn’t surprise me anymore. I’ve been here two years.”

Although his side was on the short end of the score and the support of the fans, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini spoke positively of the game and the crowd, “It was a very good game. It was very competitive. The public enjoyed the spectacle.”

The fans of both clubs also enjoyed themselves on 161 Street prior to the match at the various eateries. The 161 BID (Business Improvement District) personnel under the direction of its executive director Dr. Cary Goodman provided an extra welcome to the tens of thousands of soccer aficionados who traveled to 161st Street to see the match. Hundreds of those who frequented the neighborhood were gifted with miniature inscribed soccer balls as a memento of the occasion.

There was no score in the first-half but Manchester City dominated the action. The clubs alternated goals in the second half. The score was tied at 2 at the end of regulation time. The exciting contest ended on penalty kicks, 3-1, in favor of Liverpool. Thus, the overwhelming number of fans left the stadium in very good spirits.

The 2014-15 of the English Premier League will begin in approximately two weeks and these two fine clubs will compete during the second week of the new season.