Economic Theory explained by Football – Disruptive Influencers


Back in 1997 DC United won the second ever MLS Cup, beating Colorado Rapids on home turf. Avid fan and Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen was so compelled by DC United retaining their title that he sat down and and mused as to whether this could be the start of something beautiful for his side and US Soccer in general. Looking across the pond at the dominance of Manchester United plus the emergence of the Galacticos in Madrid he wondered if a new force could emerge to take world football by storm. His theory on disruption theory has been called “one of the sexiest theories ever written” by The Lady magazine, high praise indeed and has since been adapted for wider economic models, but it should always be remembered that it’s humble beginnings were in the beautiful game. So what’s all the fuss about?

Christensen’s theory is based around the principle that innovators with cheap solutions to a vexing market problem can unseat larger, more established rivals. So in the case of DC United’s squad, assembled at a fraction of the cost of United’s or Real’s, could their domestic dominance and momentum carry them across the pond and further in the global game. His theory was hailed as the answer to everything from making health care more efficient to reducing poverty by some of the world’s greatest thinkers, and Elton Welsby, and was the talk of the dressing and boardrooms from Rio to Rome.

Christensen wrote that disruptive innovations, such as Social Media websites, Rainbow looms and snoods tend to be produced by outsiders from their industry. The business environment of market leaders does not allow them to pursue disruption when they first arise, because they are not profitable enough at first and because their development can take scarce resources away from sustaining innovations (which are needed to compete against current competition). So when FC United won their first MLS Cup back in 1996, nobody outside of North America took them seriously – it was after all a small domestic league of ageing imports and unproven domestic talent. But back to back wins, and two more final appearances in the next two seasons allowed them to pursue that disruption and potentially start eat the global giants breakfast.

Alas, DC United’s dominance didn’t last as long as Facebook although it did outlive the crazes of plastic bracelets made by our kids and neck scarves worn by hardy professional footballers. Christensen’s theory was debunked by some who pointed to Apple’s continued dominance in the device market, or Amazon’s in terms of online shopping. We’ve seen pretenders to the footballing global dominance throne very occasionally come forward but money talks in today’s game. There is no coincidence that the clubs with the deepest pockets in England, France, Holland, Spain, Germany and Italy walk away with the honours year after year. Despite salary caps, centralised contracts and no meritocracy structure, the US domestic game is no different today. The LA Galaxy have won three of the last four titles whilst the New York Red Bulls, with the backing of the global energy drink company, lead the way this season.

Christensen’s five minutes of fame may still resonate with some economic thinkers but in terms of the world of football it’s the same old story – money talks.

Red Bulls find their wings but not enough to fly to the top of the table


It seems like an eternity since I saw Dartford lift the Blue Square Bet South Play Off final trophy back in May.  In fact it is only 6 weeks ago, but that was my last game of football.  Game number 104 of the 2011/12 season.  Since then I have tried to amuse myself with cricket, Rugby (league and union), motor racing.  Damn, we even went to Harry Potter World.  But here at last was a game – the 105th and final game of the 2011/12 season.  There has to be a start and end date for each season and to us it is the 1st July.  So goodbye this season and hello next in just 14 days when we travel to Enfield Town to watch the mighty Rooks take on Fisher for the Supporters Direct Shield.

But back to the present.  I am not saying I was desperate for a game but I had traveled 3,461 to North America for this one.  My destination?  The Garden State, home of Jersey Shore, the programme that spawned us The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore and all of those other shit shows that the only contribution they have made to the world is encouraging young girls to stick fake diamonds around their twat.  Oh, sorry, I forgot.  Twat is a very rude word here in America.  I have been warned before not to say or especially write the word Twat.  Apparently it can really cause offense.  So I wont say Twat anymore.  Ironically I can say Fanny, as that just means arse over here and, not as Keith from the Office once said, “your minge”.

Yes, you have guessed it (of course you did), we were heading for New Jersey, home of such stars as Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Jon Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston.  All of these are of course now dead (well in JBJ’s case he is wheeled onto the stage every so often and plugged into the mains) but all contributed massively to the musical history of the USA. Continue reading

RLS wilt with no AC in DC


When in Rome goes the saying, and in terms of football this should apply to any and every place you visit in the world.  Never has this been the case when the real G McDowell headed off to Washington DC last week.  He made a Schoolboy error of not checking the fixtures before he went.  We soon put him right.

So, a little history. A little over 4 weeks ago I booked myself two holidays, one to New Zealand and the other to Washington DC. A little under 4 weeks ago, I broken my arm playing football with the usual crew from work. Now depending on who you ask, this was either the result of (a) an 8 year old girl guide mugging me off (b) a swan (they can break your arm you know © Peter Kay)  (c) a good challenge where my bodyweight still caused me to fall on my wrist and break it. Anyway I digress – the morale of the story is that I now wasn’t going on either trip and my male colleagues were having a field day at my expense!

As the date got closer, I managed to rearrange the return leg, the airline says I was ok to fly and I was back on again. Continue reading