Soccer Business

Major League Soccer

Waiting for the MLS expansion announcement

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By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON DC (Dec 15, 2017) US Soccer Players - Thursday was supposed to be a big day in the race for the next two MLS expansion franchises. The cities of Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville and Sacramento remained standing after a nearly year-long process that winnowed a dozen cities down to four.

Lifting trophies in Toronto

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By J Hutcherson (Dec 12, 2017) US Soccer Players - Toronto isn't exactly title town in any sport. The Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series back-to-back in the early 90s, the high point for trophies their southern neighbors would care about. The NHL's Maple Leafs are a marquee club that hasn't skated with the Cup since 1967.

What if Seattle gets a hockey team?

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By J Hutcherson (Dec 5, 2017) US Soccer Players - We all know the Seattle soccer success story. As the vanguard of the Pacific Northwest MLS expansion movement, the Seattle Sounders are the team that draws the biggest crowds. Portland might want to argue that they've got the best atmosphere in Major League Soccer, but Seattle has the stadium capacity.

The MLS expansion message

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By J Hutcherson (Nov 30, 2017) US Soccer Players - MLS has moved from a dozen to four expansion candidates with two spots available. The league confirmed on Wednesday that they'd pick those two expansion teams probably by the end of the year. It's the conclusion of a compacted process that started with ten cities and added two more.

Is MLS a selling league?

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By Jeff Rueter – SAINT PAUL, MN (Nov 30, 2017) US Soccer Players - On Wednesday, MLS commissioner Don Garber spoke as part of the Sports Business Journal's Dealmakers conference. He covered a wide range of topics. That included confirming a potential, SUM-organized tournament next summer for non-World Cup participants.

10 years to now in MLS

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By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Nov 27, 2017) US Soccer Players – Major League Soccer has had its ups and downs over the years. From national TV ratings that have struggled to grow to stadium attendance that has, MLS can point to many failures and successes.

Focusing on North America’s other soccer leagues

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By Jeff Rueter – SAINT PAUL, MN (Nov 16, 2017) US Soccer Players - To say that Major League Soccer is in a better place than it was in 2011 would be a massive understatement. MLS has seen its talent pool become far more impressive, with roster rule changes and advanced metrics and scouting partly to thank.

Clearing The Racks

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Do forgive me for situationally sending you to a shop link, but I thought you might like to peruse a list of the top 25 jersey-selling players in MLS this season. It's interesting to see nearly half of the guys on the list play for either Atlanta United (five mentions) or Seattle (six). New York City FC and Portland were the only other clubs with as many as three players in the list.

Should pro soccer in America be business first?

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By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Nov 3, 2017) US Soccer Players - Anthony Precourt's confounding machinations about the present and future location of the Columbus Crew. The NASL's momentous antitrust suit against the US Soccer Federation. We find ourselves talking and thinking a lot about the business of the beautiful game this fall.

What MLS leaders keep missing

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By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Oct 20, 2017) US Soccer Players - Some readers will be familiar with my occasional tendency to sift through developments from seemingly disparate quarters of the American soccer scene in search of deeper meaning.

So far October has brought us stunning World Cup qualification heartbreak, and a resulting tidal wave of anger, recrimination and soul-searching.

What does Major League Soccer want?

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By Luis Bueno – RIVERSIDE, CA (Oct 18, 2017) US Soccer Players - Since its inception in 1996, Major League Soccer has been fighting for fans. As a fledgling league, plenty of fans spent their money and time to lay the foundation for future support in cities across North America.

The fight for fan attention has been an ever-present struggle for the league.

Saying goodbye to RFK

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By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON DC (Oct 18, 2017) US Soccer Players - Robert F Kennedy Memorial Stadium opened on October 5, 1961 when it hosted a National Football League game between Washington and the New York Giants. Originally called "DC Stadium", the city renamend it for Kennedy in 1968, a year after his death.

Moving a Major League Soccer club

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By J Hutcherson (Oct 17, 2017) US Soccer Players - MLS has spent a lot of time over its existence blurring the line between clubs and franchises. It's an important distinction for soccer operation with international ambition, showing that a group of teams founded and allocated by a league and later added to through expansion is the same as a league of clubs.

Learning from the NASL’s expansion problems

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By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Oct 16, 2017) US Soccer Players – We're nearing the end of the latest round of MLS expansion. Though commissioner Don Garber recently suggested that the next round might face a delay, the league was quick to confirm that they're set to announce two more teams in mid-December.

MLS avoids the tanking problem, but that doesn’t make it easier for clubs

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By J Hutcherson (Oct 3, 2017) US Soccer Players - At the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, the best player available by most metrics ended up selected late in the fourth round. Marcus Tracy chose Europe and it took 55 picks before an MLS team decided his MLS rights were worth it. That Tracy's career didn't play out as expected is irrelevant to the SuperDraft story.

NYCFC outside of NYC

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By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON DC (Sep 27 2017) US Soccer Players - New York City Football Club exists on the idea that New York City itself needed a soccer club. If you prefer a slightly more cynical take, then just flip that idea over. NYCFC exists on the idea that MLS needed a team in New York City itself.

NYCFC still needs a stadium

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It's not lost on anybody inside the league or watching it that NYCFC's current stadium solution isn't much of one. Yankee Stadium might be fine for Major League Baseball, and some MB fans would like to argue that point. As a soccer venue, it's a reminder of the no better choice scenarios the original NASL faced.

Pushing MLS into the future

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By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON DC (Sep 14, 2017) US Soccer Players - It's been an interesting week or so in Major League Soccer, both on the field and behind the scenes. Last Wednesday expansion club Atlanta United laid down a startling marker at their second match in their glittering new $1.

The move from player to pundit in US soccer

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By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Aug 21, 2017) US Soccer Players – There's an increasing number of former US players doing color commentary on TV these days. The move into punditry seems like a natural next step as more players seek to stay in the game they love, while lending their expertise to the growing number of coverage hours across all media outlets.

News Update

Miami takes another MLS step

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Friday's soccer news starts with the latest from the ongoing saga that is MLS expanding to Miami. We now know that the league is fine with the changes to the investor/operator group that will back David Beckham's MLS expansion team. With that settled and a stadium plan in place, the expectation is a quick conclusion to what has been a lengthy process to officially award a Miami MLS team.

CONCACAF’s Club World Cup run ends early

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We may be seeing the beginning of the end of the Club World Cup, at least as we know it. FIFA is reportedly considering a revamped summer tournament held every four years with 16 clubs. It's in part a response to the unlikeliness of the Confederations Cup continuing since they can't reasonably hold it in Qatar in the summer of 2021.

Barcelona doubles down on the buyout clause

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Lionel Messi will remain a member of Barcelona. In what isn't at all a surprise, his new contract contains a buyout clause. Also not surprising considering what happened to Barcelona over the summer, it's quite large. €700m euros, with Barcelona doing all it can to keep another Neymar scenario.

MLS is a soccer business

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Major League Soccer isn't likely to make the future of the Columbus Crew clear on anybody's schedule but their own. What the league is willing to do is remind everyone that this is a soccer business operating in a soccer nation and not anything else. That's a single-entity business model reminder to fans that comes at a tough time.

What happened to Serie A?

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Friday's soccer news starts with what was once a marquee game for American soccer fans, Milan vs Juventus in Serie A. The questions over Serie A's international appeal aren't new. Depending on the source, Serie A is either in a little bit of trouble or a whole lot.

Amplifying Serie A's problems is Juventus taking the biggest cut of Champions League money last season.

Pushing back against the business of Major League Soccer

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What to make of how the Columbus story is playing out? The Crew faithful started the week worrying about playoff position. They spent most of it dealing with the news that their club might be leaving at the end of next season. Making things worse, reports followed that the club processed season ticket renewals prior to any announcement of the intent to leave for Austin.

Precourt announces the Crew might move to Austin

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Tuesday's soccer news starts with an MLS team potentially moving to a new city. News broke last night that the Columbus Crew might leave for Austin if they can't get a new stadium deal. Yes, the MLS team with the first soccer-specific stadium has decided that they're better off somewhere in downtown Columbus or a completely different city.

How serious is a partial Premier League breakaway?

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The news that six Premier League teams think they deserve more of the international broadcast rights isn't surprising. Those teams are more responsible for the broader appeal of the league, exactly what EPL management is selling across the world.

Under the current model, that revenue splits equally among the member clubs.

Bayern fires their coach after loss to PSG

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Thursday's soccer news starts with the aftermath of PSG rolling over Bayern Munich at home. PSG proved their point as the top team in Group B, something that Bayern and then the rest of Europe will have to deal with this season. For Bayern Munich, the first step is a new coach.

News broke earlier today that Carlos Ancelotti might not last the day as Bayern Munich coach with the club officially confirming his exit using that favorite turn of phrase "part company".

PSG tries to get it together

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It's not clear yet whether or not the PSG experiment in paying extremely large amounts of money for marquee players is working. It doesn't take Neymar to win Ligue 1, after all. It's the Championship where their version of pay to play is supposed to show quick results. Their 5-0 win at Celtic to open Group B play probably sent the obvious message to fellow group favorites Bayern Munich.

Predicting the future of soccer TV

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When the money is pouring in domestically and internationally, it's easy to be a bit bullish on the future of Premier League television rights. BBC Sport's Simon Stone has Manchester United Ed Woodward doing exactly that, linking internet giants like Amazon and Facebook eventually bidding for the Premier League.

Frank de Boer the unfortunate winner of the 2017-18 Premier League sack race

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It's always a question at the start of the Premier League season. Who will win the sack race? In 2017-18, that dubious distinction falls to now former Crystal Palace manager Frank de Boer. Palace's 1-0 loss at Burnley sealed his fate just weeks into his first season in charge.

"Crystal Palace Football Club have this morning parted company with Frank de Boer," read the official statement.

The present of Financial Fair Play

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Friday's soccer news starts with shocked looks all around. Arsenal, one of the only clubs to fully embrace the spirit of Financial Fair Play, has reconsidered. BBC Sport has Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saying, "I'm convinced that at the moment the rules are not strong enough to make them respected.

Dealing in the transfer market

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Wednesday's soccer news starts with another round of the absurdity of the current transfer window. We're now in the era of super clubs and the bulk of the Premier League with significant amounts of money to spend but no one willing to accept a price. Why sell now when you could get more in the next window?

The transfer deadline in the Premier League

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The Premier League is approaching the transfer deadline with all the subtlety of a kid building a team in a video game. "Throw money at it" seems to be the main tactical concern, with teams panic spending at an entirely new level.

Part of this is undoubtedly the Neymar effect. Part of it is the wealth of every Premier League team wading into the types of deals that used to only involve the elite.


Tell Me About: UEFA’s Nations League

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UEFA announced the makeup of their four leagues that will compete in the new Nations League. Europe is dropping most of their friendly dates in favor of a promotions and relegation format that features a playoff for the title. The new Nations League begins on September 6, 2018.

Why Now?

Club vs country in Europe is an ongoing negotiation.

UEFA goes ahead with the Nations League

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By J Hutcherson (Sep 21, 2017) US Soccer Players - UEFA is pushing ahead with the Nations League, officially announcing the competition. It's a concept to make friendlies count... or something. It's tough to judge what UEFA really wants from their new competition, except maybe a good enough reason to keep scheduling international games during the club season.

English Premier League

Does the Bundesliga really want to be like the Premier League?

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By J Hutcherson (Sep 19, 2017) US Soccer Players - The Bundesliga has a longstanding reputation as the European big league most resistant to quick change. They're not going to revamp their competition just to chase more money. They're not going to redo their particular club structure that favors the ideal of a club without considerable debate.

Are the lower divisions playing a losing game?

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By J Hutcherson (Sep 12, 2017) US Soccer Players - The immediate question is which lower divisions? In England, the lower divisions are chasing a Premier League dream. Even the nice and cuddly clubs dedicated to their local communities and in no position to chase expensive by their standards moves.

Soccer has a time slot

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Monday's soccer news starts with something that should be obvious but so far isn't. One of the selling points of soccer to broadcasters is that it easily fits into a time slot. Well, until the rise of video assistant refereeing where instant replay has turned into extended stoppage times.

Is this a huge problem?

The Rest

CONCACAF introduces League of Nations

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CONCACAF officially announced the new League of Nations competition, set to begin in September, 2018. The press release confirmed an earlier report that the confederation was set to follow UEFA's example and form a league structure for their national teams.

Though the specifics won't be released until early 2018, CONCACAF confirmed that all 41 nations in the region will play across three leagues with promotion and relegation.