JAMES SHIELD: Star tangled banner gets itself in a twist

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THE National Football League – land of the sporting free and home of the surgically-enhanced cheerleader – is the last place you would expect to find a bitter industrial dispute.

When Karl Marx published the first volume of Das Kapital in 1867, it is fair to say that Soldier Field and Candlestick Park were not at the forefront of his thoughts.

But peer across the pond and commentators seem to believe there is a real danger of the NFL being disrupted or possibly even put into hibernation next season following a dispute about how best to divvy-up £9bn worth of revenues.

With an old agreement - which gave £1bn to owners to spend on stadia and promotions and the remainder split 60/40 in favour of the players - now expired, brokering a new one has so far proved impossible.

Despite the Federal Government’s decision to parachute in a team of mediators. A bit like David Cameron and Nick Clegg dispatching Number 10’s backroom staff to help Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon settle their differences over a wee dram.

In the past, Talking Sport has discovered to its cost that writing anything which even remotely criticises Gridiron or other minority sports, (this is Great Britain not Glendale), is the literary equivalent of setting-up a branch of Class War in Virginia Water.

It certainly provokes a furious response from anoraks who like watching people playing rugby in helmets or rounders in tight plus-fours.

Actually, I’m not having a ‘pop’ but all non-essential emails have been wiped from my in-box as a precautionary measure.

But, the fact remains, the NFL is not the most obvious forum for a discussion on labor – sorry labour – relations.

Unlike the Premier League, every single one of its teams is profitable.

And, according to well-informed estimates, worth around £1bn apiece.

The business model of the FAPL, however, makes it unlikely a similar situation would ever occur here.

Because, as Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez have already demonstrated, there is no doubt the players already hold sway back in Blighty.

However, just as not all footballers earn hundreds of thousands of pounds every week, (I once knew one plying his trade in League Two who struggled to get a mortgage for a modest house), not every one of their cousins in the good ol’ US of A leave the office clutching a $100m contract.

Given that the average NFL career lasts just three-and-a-half years, I suppose they can’t be blamed for trying to grab a bigger slice of the pie.