On Monday, Leicester City F.C. won the English Premier League. It’s quite a story. Up until this point, only five teams have won the prestigious Premiership title. And, Leicester (pronounced Les-ter), the ultimate underdogs, did it in storybook form. Just one season prior, Leicester City were in contention for relegation from the Premier league.
Try to imagine if the Chicago Cubs were a AAA ball team one year and went on to win the World Series the next -it’s like that, sorta. Or consider the fact that the two richest clubs in the EPL spent a total of $1.2 billion dollars in player transfers in 2015, compared to Leicester’s $75 million. The odds were stacked against them at the start of the season and the bookmakers called it 5000/1. Leicester winning the title was considered less probable than Kim Kardashian becoming President …a 2000/1 shot. As of yesterday, the industry-wide pay out for laying down this cheeky bet 9 months ago was $35 million.
All money aside, for sports fans, Leicester City and the boys on the pitch have created a tale impossible to ignore. A story so good that not only is the soccer world paying attention to this feat, American sports journalists are paying attention too …during baseball and NHL/NBA playoff season, no less. The likes of USA Today, The NY Times, Time Magazine, Huff Post, and Sports Illustrated are all talking about Leicester City, James Vardy, and the greatest triumph in the history of sport. And compared to all of the great sports moments, unequivocally, Leicester winning the league is just that.
So, once again, soccer has taken over the conversation around the water cooler and during happy hour - the stats are flying. And, as we head into June, the timing couldn’t be any better. For soccer bars, this feel-good, rags-to-riches story is a precursor for the summer of soccer. There are two major International soccer tournaments in June - EURO and COPA - and both will undoubtedly set the stage for more storybook endings. Ireland is going to France, along with thousands of the best fans in the sport, and the U.S. is tournament hosts during a notable 100th anniversary year. These tourneys will overlap and our TV schedules will be filled with games every day, with as many as five games in a single day. Pride of country is on the line and, no doubt, the David and Goliath story will be (re)told throughout.
As for baseball, I just found out that the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a Series since 1908 and are currently leading their division. This week, Leicester’s story has reminded sports fans that anything is possible. The boys of summer will be swinging at a ball AND kicking one this June …early predictions anyone?
Mark your calendars -
May 21 – FA CUP – Manchester United v Crystal Palace
May 28 – Champions League Final
June 3 – June 26 – COPA, the 100th Anniversary and United States to host.
June 10 – July 10 – EURO 2016, France to host.
*Visit the sports schedule for match times. We are showing all the games live.