Happy birthday, dear Nahki, happy birthday to you ...
The Premier League in England is undeniably the richest football league in the world and, despite convincing arguments to the contrary over the past decade at least, it is viewed largely in these parts as also the best league in the world.
It was not too long ago that there was talk about the top flight in England becoming an exclusive club, with no relegation or promotion.
Fears abounded that with the influx of foreign ownership — those from America, in particular, who possess a franchise mentality when it comes to their investment — there would be enough of a drive to cut off the elite from the rest of the 72-team Football League pyramid.
It was an Englishman — Phil Gartside, the late former long-time chairman of Bolton Wanderers — who proposed the concept of, first, a two-tier breakaway from the rest of the game in 2008, and talks were reignited three years later of the top 20 only, as more and more Premier League clubs were “rescued” by people whose only experience of the national sport had been on the telly from a place far, far away.
Virtually every elite club is in foreign hands now, including the traditional “big three” of Manchester United (America), Liverpool (America) and Arsenal (America). Throw in the “new money” of the past ten years, which led to the dramatic change in fortunes of Chelsea (Russia), Manchester City (United Arab Emirates) and the 2015-16 miracle that was Leicester City (Thailand).
But the sense of English tradition, history and values won the day and the idea has been spiked — for now.
Had it gone through, there would be no Huddersfield Town — for all their storied history dating back to 1922, when they won the FA Cup for the only time, and 1926, when they became the first English club to win three successive league titles — and there would be no Nahki Wells.
Wells, the slightly build lad who at age 20 was told that he was not good enough to play for third-tier Carlisle United, is now a Premier League player and Carlisle, who now have another Bermudian in Reggie Lambe on their books, are consigned to another season in the fourth tier, having missed out in the League Two play-offs.
The rise to prominence for Wells, who turns 27 today, has been phenomenal. And he now gets a chance to mix it with the rich and famous at some of the most iconic grounds in world football.
As the Premier League is the most watched league globally — the outrageous television-rights deal inked last year will keep it so — Wells will be viewed by millions more. Now more than ever, those fickle Bermudian fans whose allegiance to English clubs originated from looking at who is at the top of the table and claiming them, can genuinely attach themselves to Huddersfield.
Much as was the case when City and Shaun Goater ended decades of playing second fiddle to the red half of Manchester.
It will come with a health risk, though, because the West Yorkshire club are the bookmakers’ early favourites to return to the Championship at the first time of asking. There is no surprise in this, for the team who win the play-offs are often seen as the third wheel of the promoted clubs, and they also have far less time to engage in transfer activity than those who go up automatically.
The players at Huddersfield have done their part and over the next few weeks, even before the celebrations have died down, the backroom bean counters must do theirs and implement a strategy to make the club viable in the Premier League without breaking the bank.
Many players have been brought in by head coach David Wagner on loan deals and there are those, such as Wells himself, who have 12 months left on their existing contracts and need to be sorted — one way or the other — before they become free to talk to other clubs in the last six months.
Wells should be in no rush, but the closer he gets to January 2018 without re-signing, the twitchier he, his agent and the Huddersfield fans may become.
Much could depend on how Huddersfield get on in their new environment. They play a style of possession football that should make them competitive against the top clubs but a lack of end product — only one club in the top half of the Championship scored fewer than Huddersfield’s 54 league goals — will be a significant handicap if it is replicated in the Premier League.
Bermuda’s newest candidate to have a road named after him has admitted that chances created this season have been few and far between, and that promises to get no easier next season — unless Huddersfield splash the cash this summer looking for impact players, unsettling virtually everyone in the squad that got them to the promised land.
The odds are that they will take the frugal fiscal approach — like Bournemouth did after promotion in 2014-15 and Burnley in 2015-16 — and remain loyal to a group who, but for the many loan stars, formed a nucleus of an outfit that finished nineteenth last season, three places above the relegation zone. If so, the 8-13 odds against relegation that you can get from most bookies may look like easy money.
That will not bother chairman and owner Dean Hoyle. The poor man — figuratively poor, for his net worth largely from the greetings card business is a tidy £365 million (about $470 million) — lived every kick at Wembley on Monday, and there were times when it was simply too painful to watch.
He commands loyalty and treats the club like a family, so it stands to reason that everyone in the match-day squad for the play-off final will be given a chance to make an impression on the Premier League.
And if it does not quite work out, Huddersfield can add a whopping £90 million parachute payment to their coffers over three years if they stay out of the Premier League — a guaranteed £40 million in the first year — not to mention the not inconsiderable share of television money.
It will make the £250,000 add-on fee they have to pay Bradford City as part of the agreement when Wells was snapped up in January 2014 seem like a drop in the ocean — money that could have been going to Carlisle.
If only they had a bit more faith in the “Bermudan”.
But this is not time for remonstration or for taunts of “Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?”
It’s Nahki Wells’s birthday — and it’s a great day to be 27.
“Go, go, go, go, go, go.
“Go, Nahki, it’s your birthday.
“We gon’ party like it’s your birthday ... ”