Bale would be leaving a Premier League that will feature two Welsh teams for the first time after Cardiff City gained promotion to join Swansea, who will find it hard to repeat last season’s 11th-place finish and League Cup success.
The Cardiff-Swansea derby is shaping up to be one of the fieriest fixtures of the season.
The manager to watch out for, though, will be Paolo Di Canio, the confrontational and divisive Italian who succeeded in keeping Sunderland in the top flight after being hired in the closing stages of the season amid an outcry over his past comments about fascism.
Sunderland is one of the six Premier League clubs under US ownership. Alongside Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Aston Villa, Fulham is the latest, with Shad Khan buying out Mohamed Al Fayed last month.
The attraction of teams to foreign businessmen is underscored by the new riches being injected into the Premier League, notably from the US, where NBC has captured the TV rights and covered New York subway trains with advertising.
New rights TV deals will generate about US$8.5 billion over the next three years, with a record share of US$90 million per season guaranteed for even the bottom team.
Yet for all the new arrivals and the dramas that unfold in the coming months, the absence of one man is still likely to be felt most.
Moyes’ job is to ensure United fans do not hanker after Ferguson and plead for his return.
“It has to be a new era,” Moyes said. “My job now is to make my history ... make sure now that my history and my time is something which the fans and people in the future talk about.”