Why P Diddy Should Not Buy an English Soccer Team

Diddy is the latest very rich person to think that buying an English football team is a quaint and charming idea. But his plan to buy London team Crystal Palace for $360m will lead to disaster. And here's why.

  • Sneering at Americans is almost a pastime in England. Whatever they tell you when they come to tourist around New York or Florida, many English people see Americans as crass, fat idiots with plastic souls. There is some financial justification for the huge backlash against the Glazer family, who own Manchester United (and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). But the vehement hatred is based firmly in the fact that the Glazers are American and it's felt that they don't get football. Bespoke tailored, champagne-quaffing, perfume-having P Diddy does not exactly exude a working class love for the game either. He'd be ousted as soon as they lost two matches in succession.
  • English football fans are, in many cases, illiterate racist morons. Diddy is black. They do not like black people — even prominent black players have racist abuse (and occasionally bananas) hurled at them from the stands. With a wealth of song material at their disposal, it would be a matter of minutes before some disgusting, appalling and amusingly-phrased racist chant worked its way across the stadium. Diddy does not strike us as someone who would take this lightly. And warring with your fans, however wrong they are, is not a wise move for the owner of a football team.
  • Diddy is used to getting his own way. Celebrity football team owners sometimes forget where they are and make dreadful faux-pas in such circumstances — here's English TV chef Delia Smith, who owns part of Norwich City FC giving an, um, exuberant half-time speech to illustrate the dangers. Add Courvoisier and a rapper, and you have a potentially explosive YouTube combination.

Just buy a gigantic yacht, P (if indeed we can call you P).

UPDATE: Lots of Crystal Palace fans are upset at the above characterizations. Here's the most literate of their emails:

Okay. First, you should know that racism has almost completely disappeared from the English game. Indeed we are FAR ahead of the rest of Europe in that regard. I've heard racist slurs at Red Sox games, so it's not like it's completely absent from the US. Second, most of Palace's most successful team from 20 years ago were black (Ian Wright, Mark Bright, Andy Gray, many more); indeed in a lengthy study of racism in football published ten years ago, Palace were lauded for their attitude toward race relations. Third we (yes I'm a fan) play in a very diverse part of London, and we've always had black fans; not as many as Arsenal, but many more than clubs such as Charlton and Millwall. English people don't think all Americans are fat and ugly; indeed some Yanks have been made very welcome. I'm sure PDiddy won't buy the club, but if he cares about appealing to black fans, then Palace would actually make sense.

Stuart Burrows
Associate Professor
Dept. of English
Brown University

To which I would add: I'm English. And brown. And any suggestion that football in England — indeed the whole culture of football watching — is not racist is optimistic at best. A regular chant at England games (I've been to a few) is "I'd rather be a Paki than a [insert nationality of opposition]". Inclusive? Diverse? Friendly? Not so much. The last occasion was, admittedly, three years ago. If attitudes have utterly transformed since then, or do not apply at Selhurst Park, I will be pleasantly surprised.