The Future Of Mls

lawson

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Hi all,

I'm fairly new to MLS. I have been to a few Red Bull games over the past 5 years if and when a bunch of friends have gone and I will watch the odd game on TV when there is nothing else to do, but I watch it purely for the love of the game.

With the growing number of 'expansion' teams constantly adding to the size of the league do you ever think we will see the abolishment of the East and West conferences in favor of the promotion/relegation system as is the norm across the rest of the soccer world? If so, do you think it would be an MLS 1 - MLS 2 type league or would the NASL be involved in some way?

I think this could really take the excitement of MLS to a whole new level, although I completely get the risks - I highly doubt the sport would be able to maintain a vibrant fan base if your local team is scrapping it out at the bottom of the second division.

Would love to hear peoples thoughts on this, particularly those who are more clued in MLS history. Has or is this being talked about?
 

Falastur

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Promotion/relegation won't happen in MLS for at least 20-30 years, and probably never will. The thing about MLS, unlike virtually every other league in the world, is that club owners do not just own their team, they own the right to run a team in the league. Introducing promotion/relegation would be seen as a violation of owners' contracts with the league and you'd see a mass mutiny if anyone even proposed it off-hand. It's a shame, because I think promotion/relegation is one of the most important aspects of not just football but sports in general, but I simply can't see it changing unless MLS finds a way of abandoning its franchise system.
 

MikeDatTiger

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Hi! Welcome to MLS fandom!

I think it's difficult to have relegation because right now there is a need to get owners to invest in soccer. That's not just DPs, it's also academies, stadiums, etc. Like Falastur mentioned, the way MLS has done this is guaranteed franchises i.e. the owners know they're in MLS.
 

einwindir

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Hi all,

I'm fairly new to MLS. I have been to a few Red Bull games over the past 5 years if and when a bunch of friends have gone and I will watch the odd game on TV when there is nothing else to do, but I watch it purely for the love of the game.

With the growing number of 'expansion' teams constantly adding to the size of the league do you ever think we will see the abolishment of the East and West conferences in favor of the promotion/relegation system as is the norm across the rest of the soccer world? If so, do you think it would be an MLS 1 - MLS 2 type league or would the NASL be involved in some way?

I think this could really take the excitement of MLS to a whole new level, although I completely get the risks - I highly doubt the sport would be able to maintain a vibrant fan base if your local team is scrapping it out at the bottom of the second division.

Would love to hear peoples thoughts on this, particularly those who are more clued in MLS history. Has or is this being talked about?
We've gotten so used to our professional sports model (franchise) that a pro/rel would not work. The infrastructure and fanbase just isn't there. I know it's a shit example but if RBNY were to be 'relegated' to NASL and Cosmos 'promoted' to MLS - could Cosmos realistically draw 13,000 to every game? Not a chance. Especially considering their stadium has a max capacity of under 12,000. The average NASL attendance seems to be between 4-8K. DC United (13k) has the lowest MLS figures which is still higher than the highest NASL (7k).

I'd love to see pro/rel. It would kick a lot of teams into gear. Revs, Chiva USA and RB to name a few. It would also put teams like Cosmos, Railhawks and Minnesota United in the national spotlight.

sources:
http://dohertysoccer.com/2014-lower...-attendances/2014-nasl-season-attendance-log/
https://www.google.com/search?q=hofstra stadium capacity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Soccer_attendance

edit: I'm fairly new to MLS and soccer as a whole as well but it's conversations like this that help me learn as much as I can.
 
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lawson

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I hear what you are saying and like I said I understand the risk to a certain extent.

However, should we not take into account the egos of the guys that run these clubs? For example, a team like the Revs, who have never won an MLS Cup would have the chance at some silverware (even if it is the fictitious 'MLS 2'). As a fan I'd much rather see my team doing well in a lower division than always struggling in a higher one. Im sure attendances would agree with me also.
 
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BxLio91

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Not another Pro/Rel debate :(
One thing that I find hilarious is the fact that the LI Cockroaches are seen as the face of the proles when if they were in MLS they wouldn't even address the issue.
 

Gene

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I think it's quite obvious pro/rel will never happen in this country. The money people will never allow it to happen.
 
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NYCFCFan10

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I hear what you are saying and like I said I understand the risk to a certain extent.

However, should we not take into account the egos of the guys that run these clubs? For example, a team like the Revs, who have never won an MLS Cup would have the chance at some silverware (even if it is the fictitious 'MLS 2'). As a fan I'd much rather see my team doing well in a lower division than always struggling in a higher one. Im sure attendances would agree with me also.
This is what kills me though about the promotion and relegation model.

A few teams at the top are going to hoard all the money even though they likely have an owner with more money than the other owners. Now you have these small city clubs that bounce up and down from league 1 to league 2 and back. Of course, the year they bounce up to league 1, you KNOW they're just going to get the shit kicked out of them. Even if they manage to stay up in the top flight, they're going to be near the bottom of the table getting the shit kicked out of them. Southampton's done pretty well for themselves since returning to the BPL. What was their reward? They're having their team completely ripped apart -- including the manager --- by the bigger clubs. They'll likely be relegated next season. Hurray.

So you're saying you'd rather be able to win league 2 hardware than nothing at all in the top flight but you realize you'll have to essentially "waste" a year getting the shit kicked out of you in the top flight after you win promotion by winning that league 2 hardware. Why not let second rate cities and second rate clubs play in the second rate league where they can be competitive? Why force them up against clubs that they're not really in the same league with?

I think maybe pro/rel made more sense before all the money poured into the game. Now, though, if you actually think about what's happening, its not worth it.
 

MrE

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I see the MLS as the equivalent to the much talked about European Super League.... A league for the elite cartel. where as the NASL is the national league equivalent.

The TV money is coming into the MLS because of its contacts... How long before TV companies start to believe the value in NASL compared to MLS ?
 

BxLio91

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A long time. The world famous legendary cosmos who are the face of NASL managed to sell an impressive 3806 tickets in a 12k capacity stadium at their last home game.
 

lawson

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This is what kills me though about the promotion and relegation model.

A few teams at the top are going to hoard all the money even though they likely have an owner with more money than the other owners. Now you have these small city clubs that bounce up and down from league 1 to league 2 and back. Of course, the year they bounce up to league 1, you KNOW they're just going to get the shit kicked out of them. Even if they manage to stay up in the top flight, they're going to be near the bottom of the table getting the shit kicked out of them. Southampton's done pretty well for themselves since returning to the BPL. What was their reward? They're having their team completely ripped apart -- including the manager --- by the bigger clubs. They'll likely be relegated next season. Hurray.

So you're saying you'd rather be able to win league 2 hardware than nothing at all in the top flight but you realize you'll have to essentially "waste" a year getting the shit kicked out of you in the top flight after you win promotion by winning that league 2 hardware. Why not let second rate cities and second rate clubs play in the second rate league where they can be competitive? Why force them up against clubs that they're not really in the same league with?

I think maybe pro/rel made more sense before all the money poured into the game. Now, though, if you actually think about what's happening, its not worth it.

I completely understand what you are saying here but stone me, what a depressing attitude to have!

Do you seriously believe that promoted clubs go in with the view that they are going to, and I quote "have the shit kicked out of them in the top flight"!? Not a chance! Promoted clubs see it as a chance to build a platform for success, in the hope that in the long term they can establish themselves as an elite club. If it doesn't happen, the experience should serve them well.

Just look at EPL teams recently. When Stoke were first promoted everybody (including myself) tipped them to go straight back down. They have limited resources and is indeed as you put it "a second rate city". Since promotion they have made it into the Europa League and I would say have established themselves in the division.
On the other hand, take Newcastle. Flirted with being a major player in the league through its early years and then hit an extremely stagnant period where they were eventually relegated. They went down into the Football League, won the league and by all accounts had a much better time in doing so rather than finishing 14th in the Premier League.

Finally, on the Southampton point - you have to remember Lallana and Lambert were with Saints in League One, they now have the chance to go and play Champions League football, the club would have done their loyal players a huge disservice by not allowing them to follow a dream. As for the coach, it is what it is. I would argue that without plying their trade in the top division and doing so well would they have been able to aquire a coach of De Boers caliber? I highly doubt it.

Lets make it fun, I bet you a new NYCFC 2016 jersey that Southampton do not get relegated this season. (EPL season end and release date will be around the same time)
 

MrE

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Hi! Welcome to MLS fandom!

I think it's difficult to have relegation because right now there is a need to get owners to invest in soccer. That's not just DPs, it's also academies, stadiums, etc. Like Falastur mentioned, the way MLS has done this is guaranteed franchises i.e. the owners know they're in MLS.

I understand the model, ref promotion / relegation ... its new to me, I will get my head round it and can see the reasoning. Don't know if I agree with it but I see it....

What I do not see is why any owner would buy into an MLS club ? I must be missing something, and if anyone can help me understand I will be grateful.

I am sure the points below are not as straight forward as I put them, (or at least I can't see the sense in them if they are)

1. You do not own the club (merely the Franchise)
2. The MLS dictate your Kit manufacturer .... closing a revenue stream ?
3. The MLS own your players contracts ? (or do I misunderstand this)
4. The MLS take a hefty commission on your transfer activity.
5. You cannot build a team for the long term because of the obstructions noted above, plus this draft system where players get taken off you to be allowed to go to other clubs (less successful clubs first picks ?)
5a.... what happens if a player does not want to go to a club that picks him ?
6. You spend money developing young talent, but you are limited to the numbers as the MLS don't allow you to hold too many... if you sell them see point 4.
7 The MLS have to sanction loan moves in and out (no doubt more commission)
8 If you cannot build a team for long term, one shitty season can half attendances ?
 

MikeDatTiger

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I understand the model, ref promotion / relegation ... its new to me, I will get my head round it and can see the reasoning. Don't know if I agree with it but I see it....

What I do not see is why any owner would buy into an MLS club ? I must be missing something, and if anyone can help me understand I will be grateful.

I am sure the points below are not as straight forward as I put them, (or at least I can't see the sense in them if they are)

1. You do not own the club (merely the Franchise)
2. The MLS dictate your Kit manufacturer .... closing a revenue stream ?
3. The MLS own your players contracts ? (or do I misunderstand this)
4. The MLS take a hefty commission on your transfer activity.
5. You cannot build a team for the long term because of the obstructions noted above, plus this draft system where players get taken off you to be allowed to go to other clubs (less successful clubs first picks ?)
5a.... what happens if a player does not want to go to a club that picks him ?
6. You spend money developing young talent, but you are limited to the numbers as the MLS don't allow you to hold too many... if you sell them see point 4.
7 The MLS have to sanction loan moves in and out (no doubt more commission)
8 If you cannot build a team for long term, one shitty season can half attendances ?


1. Well, they own the club and the franchise. Franchise just allows them to play in MLS. But that franchise is incredibly valuable and is likely to increase in value substantially as MLS grows. The owners sell the clubs just as they would in other countries. Leagues here don't strip owners of franchises very often (I think it's only happened once when Donald Sterling made abhorrent racist comments and refused to apologize, and the NBA banned him) and when it does, the owner still has the legal right to sell (and receive money for) his franchise.
2. MLS contracts with the kit manufacturer, but the profits are spread throughout the
clubs. It is assumed that as a unit MLS is more valuable than any individual club. So they still get revenue.
3. Yes, for now. It's weird and probably outdated.
5. Ok, there are two drafts. First is the expansion draft which is what you're talking about. However, each club gets to protect certain players from that draft i.e. only the lower players will be available via that draft. So it's not like NYCFC can take Dempsey from Seattle, for example. Second is the collegiate draft, where each club chooses a college graduate in an order. These college players don't have affiliations previously.
6. You have a greater ability to retain the talent you develop, so your team would benefit from growing young players.
8. You can still have DPs and those DPs can bring in fans even if the team as a whole isn't as good.
 

MikeDatTiger

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I understand the model, ref promotion / relegation ... its new to me, I will get my head round it and can see the reasoning. Don't know if I agree with it but I see it....

What I do not see is why any owner would buy into an MLS club ? I must be missing something, and if anyone can help me understand I will be grateful.

I am sure the points below are not as straight forward as I put them, (or at least I can't see the sense in them if they are)

1. You do not own the club (merely the Franchise)
2. The MLS dictate your Kit manufacturer .... closing a revenue stream ?
3. The MLS own your players contracts ? (or do I misunderstand this)
4. The MLS take a hefty commission on your transfer activity.
5. You cannot build a team for the long term because of the obstructions noted above, plus this draft system where players get taken off you to be allowed to go to other clubs (less successful clubs first picks ?)
5a.... what happens if a player does not want to go to a club that picks him ?
6. You spend money developing young talent, but you are limited to the numbers as the MLS don't allow you to hold too many... if you sell them see point 4.
7 The MLS have to sanction loan moves in and out (no doubt more commission)
8 If you cannot build a team for long term, one shitty season can half attendances ?

And just to expand on 1, the real value in buying into MLS right now is the expectation that the value of franchises will continue to grow. a 100M franchise fee right now in NYCFC could easily be 200M in 10 years. That's great return and as TV ratings increase, fan attendance increases, etc. the group floor that the owners right now are getting on will be rising very quickly.
 

MrE

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1. Well, they own the club and the franchise. Franchise just allows them to play in MLS. But that franchise is incredibly valuable and is likely to increase in value substantially as MLS grows. The owners sell the clubs just as they would in other countries. Leagues here don't strip owners of franchises very often (I think it's only happened once when Donald Sterling made abhorrent racist comments and refused to apologize, and the NBA banned him) and when it does, the owner still has the legal right to sell (and receive money for) his franchise.
2. MLS contracts with the kit manufacturer, but the profits are spread throughout the
clubs. It is assumed that as a unit MLS is more valuable than any individual club. So they still get revenue.
3. Yes, for now. It's weird and probably outdated.
5. Ok, there are two drafts. First is the expansion draft which is what you're talking about. However, each club gets to protect certain players from that draft i.e. only the lower players will be available via that draft. So it's not like NYCFC can take Dempsey from Seattle, for example. Second is the collegiate draft, where each club chooses a college graduate in an order. These college players don't have affiliations previously.
6. You have a greater ability to retain the talent you develop, so your team would benefit from growing young players.
8. You can still have DPs and those DPs can bring in fans even if the team as a whole isn't as good.

MikeDatTiger MikeDatTiger,

With reference to point 2.
The population (& potential fanbase) in NYC is probably double or treble the potential in (say) Seattle.
Does the league spread this evenly or is it based upon shirt sales.

Do you know the cost of buying a franchise and is it the same throughout the MLS or based upon many factors
(e.g. When I sold franchises the price was XXX non negotiable for an area. The negotiation may have been based upon the franchisees area rights but he needed XXX to buy in.

I assume if an owner is selling the league buy the club and sell it on. As would happen in any other Franchise this way the franchisor retains the right to control franchisees.

With reference to point 6. In the premier league, if a club (say City) develops a player who almost makes it but is not quite good enough or due to other issues ends up leaving the team, the club may well Sell that player to another PL side. Is this option available in the MLS (inter club transfers for fee).
Other options would be to sell to a club from another league, I understand the MLS will still take one third of the fee. Sometimes they may give the player a free transfer but retain the rights to a percentage of future transfers.
Who negotiates this the club or the MLS who I believe have to ratify the transfer.
 

MikeDatTiger

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MikeDatTiger MikeDatTiger,

With reference to point 2.
The population (& potential fanbase) in NYC is probably double or treble the potential in (say) Seattle.
Does the league spread this evenly or is it based upon shirt sales.

Do you know the cost of buying a franchise and is it the same throughout the MLS or based upon many factors
(e.g. When I sold franchises the price was XXX non negotiable for an area. The negotiation may have been based upon the franchisees area rights but he needed XXX to buy in.

I assume if an owner is selling the league buy the club and sell it on. As would happen in any other Franchise this way the franchisor retains the right to control franchisees.

With reference to point 6. In the premier league, if a club (say City) develops a player who almost makes it but is not quite good enough or due to other issues ends up leaving the team, the club may well Sell that player to another PL side. Is this option available in the MLS (inter club transfers for fee).
Other options would be to sell to a club from another league, I understand the MLS will still take one third of the fee. Sometimes they may give the player a free transfer but retain the rights to a percentage of future transfers.
Who negotiates this the club or the MLS who I believe have to ratify the transfer.

2. Hmmm. I'm not certain but I think it's divided evenly.

Cost of franchise is based on any factor you can think of. NYCFC was 100M; Atlanta is from 70 to 100M. Population, etc.

No. The league only buys the club if it desperately wants the owner out or the owner is in desperate need of immediate sale (see Chivas USA), and that is at discretion of the league. Otherwise the owner sells to whomever the owners wants to sell to, pending approval by the league (which is just a check to make sure the finances work out). So the league gets an approval, but in most cases this is a rubber stamp. League may get involved is a relocation is involved, since that would affect all of the clubs.

There is a intra-league loan system that has been used, though very rarely (I think it may be new, but I'm not sure). MLS is just getting to the point of having these kinds of developed players, so I think it's being worked out on the fly (though probably will be hammered out in new CBA).

I think MLS negotiates the transfers, though obviously clubs are involved. In the beginning this was a benefit as new owners could MLS to recruit other players. This is becoming a bit of a sticky point now, with competition between clubs fiercer (ask a Portland or FC Dallas fan about Dempsey going to Seattle).
 

MikeDatTiger

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On a note, some of the thinking behind the "let's spread revenue evenly" is to ensure the financial viability of the smaller market clubs, which need to be successful in order to help A) spread the game b) provide good competition across the schedule. More teams=more games, and better games=more fans=higher ticket prices/increased TV revenue. This seems to be more of an American sports issue, for whatever reason.