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I'VE got a vision about how today's Merseyside derby might look in a few years' time.

 

Leading out the Everton franchise to his Rocky theme tune is Sylvester Stallone, an honorary board member after Planet Hollywood owner Robert Earl bought out Bill Kenwright.

 

Leading out Brand Red will be former president George Bush, guest of his close Texan buddy and Liverpool owner Tom Hicks, to his theme tune Somethin' Stupid.

 

As the teams line up in front of their cheerleaders (the Anfield Belles and the Kirkby Boomers) Diana Ross is parachuted on to the centre circle to belt out Ferry 'Cross The Mersey, before a word from our sponsors sees Sly and Dubya trade mock punches as they head back down the tunnel.

 

The razzmatazz is now standard fayre across the land, as 75 per cent of Premiership clubs are in the hands of American tycoons, who in 2006-7 realised that the top flight of English football was on course to become the biggest single sports revenue stream on earth.

 

If you think that's fantasy think on this. The likelihood is that by this time next week every Premiership club who have been champions of Europe (Liverpool, Manchester United and Aston Villa) will be run by Americans. Men who know nothing about football, but know how many greenbacks are about to pour into the English game.

 

 

The most lucrative sports league is America's NFL, whose current TV rights deal is worth £1.5billion-a-year. The problem is gridiron doesn't travel well in foreign markets obsessed with only one sport, football.

 

 

The NFL has a glass ceiling. Football unlimited potential.

 

 

Which is why the latest Premiership TV rights mega deal, worth up to £2.7bn over three years, has made the Yanks sit up and take notice. Especially when £625m of that deal is for foreign rights. Revenues that will explode as football takes an even bigger grip in Asia and the Far East, and pay-perview becomes king.

 

 

Throw in the fact that American sport franchises are banned on moral grounds from tying up with gambling firms or authorising their own credit cards, and you see why football is such a massive attraction for those who know how to make money out of sport.

 

 

Specifically English football which sells to more than 200 countries, where brand loyalty is huge and spread out, attendances are the highest in the world, foreign ownership is not restricted, and it has many big clubs with huge traditions run by mediocre businessmen willing to sell out for a tidy profit.

 

 

The Liverpool fans currently dismayed about the collapse of the Dubai deal and fearful of the club's future in American hands, should remember this. Your club is not a plc. Unlike Manchester United its owners did not have to sell because the stock market demanded.

 

 

Liverpool is being sold because the club is £80m in debt, has no money for a new stadium, and no clue as to how to bridge the gap with Chelsea, United and Arsenal.

 

 

Ask yourself why. Why a club of Liverpool's stature has ended up taking a begging bowl around the world for three years? Why its commercial side is such a joke when it has one of the biggest global fan bases?

 

 

Why at the end of the 1990s they didn't persuade banks to underwrite the £126m it cost Cardiff to build a 76,000 stadium, on the back of a season-ticket waiting list of more than 20,000?

 

 

It's because the club has been run on amateur lines by a fan (David Moores), an accountant (Rick Parry) and a penniless board lacking the clout, vision and know-how to keep up with their rivals.

 

 

But what rich pickings Liverpool offers businessmen with balls and cash. Cue the Yanks, moving in for the kill, while the board and the Arabs dither.

 

 

And they'll move in for the kill at other clubs soon. But as Americans do the maths and grab our family silver, where are the Brits? Where are those businessmen, bankers and luvvies who take up all the seats during cup finals and who profess such a deep love for the game?

 

 

They're in the corporate boxes hiding their wallets under the canapes, while the Yanks set about leaving them with Eggs Benedict all over their face.

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