Saturday, October 18, 2008

English Footy Comes to Michigan

Back in January of this year, Andrew Appleby, chairman of Rochester Hills-based General Sports and Entertainment (GSE), bought a majority stake in Derby County FC for £50 million. Although GSE owns minor-league basketball and hockey teams (and represents Astroturf), this is their first foray into footy (cue Derby County are a minor league team jokes). Derby had been in the English Premier League (suck it Barclay's) every year from 1996-2001, were relegated, and regained their promotion through a playoff spot in 2006. Therefore in January 2008 (the middle of the 2007-2008 season), Derby were back in the EPL after 5 years away. With the club sitting at only 7 points at the bottom of the table, Appleby bought Derby on the cheap and then watched them finish 20th and be relegated yet again.

Having owned the club for 9 months, GSE has watched Derby County start slowly in the Championship as they sit 15th in the table with 13 points from 10 matches. Suffering through this poor form, Appleby decided to brighten his own backyard and formed a strategic partnership between Derby County FC and the youth teams playing under the name Michigan Wolves (boys) and Michigan Hawks (girls). In particular, the boys U-16 and U-18 teams playing in the US Development Academy will receive a significant amount of money from the club, and will play under the name Derby County Wolves going forward (no word on whether the girls' teams in that age group, who have produced USWNT players Lindsay Tarpley and Kate Sobrero, will also receive financial assistance).

Roger Faulkner, the Vice-President of Soccer for GSE, has noted that the state of Michigan has a rich soccer history, and the Wolves-Hawks have been well-represented within that history. The club has produced seven overall US Youth Soccer National Championships (1989, 1991, 1992, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2007), and has been ranked as high as #7 nationally, with a current national ranking of #16.

So, Derby County FC increase their presence internationally and develop a pipeline into a legitimate national power in the United States. That is good news for a team like Derby, who has had to endure matches like this.

Even better, with some of the talent on the Wolves squad, maybe they should make some call-ups sooner, rather than later.

1 comment:

ΓΌ75 said...

Was that Iwelumo at 0:23? Ouch.

Also, this would be much better if the team was the Michigan WolvesHawks.