Friday, August 04, 2006

MLS State of the League and other info

MLS Commissioner Don Garber gave the "State of the League address" as well as made the all important announcement with ABC/ESPN that there is a new broadcasting deal between MLS/SUM and ABC/ESPN. The new deal runs from 2007 to 2014. Here are some of the main points:

- ABC will broadcast the following three matches:
- Season Opener
- MLS All Star Game
- MLS Cup Final

- ESPN2 will broadcast 26 consecutive MLS matches each season, each on Thursday evenings. They are exploring the addition of an MLS recap show and expanding the highlight coverage on SportCenter.

The other main points that Garber announced are:

- Club Academy's will nolonger have to lose the rights to players that they identify and develop. A player that is brought along through the LA Galaxy Academy, for example, will stay in the LA Galaxy club system and will not have to be entered into the MLS SuperDraft.

- 2007 will see 1 new club enter the league, Toronto FC. The league will play an unbalanced schedule, with clubs getting bye weeks.

- 2008 will have 1 more new club enter the league, which has yet to be determined.

- 2010 will have the 2 final clubs enter the league, and at that point MLS will end its expansion, as explained in this post during the on-line chat session -

"Larry from Tallahassee, Fla.
I would like to know if MLS must keep within the new FIFA rules that call for a maximum of 18 first division teams? Or can we go higher if we play an unbalanced schedule and keep the league games to 30-36?
Commissioner Garber: Our current plans are for 16 teams by 2010 and to stay at that."

Link -

- Garber also made it a point of calling out the Salt Lake City Council and the County Council that have been holding up the stadium plans for RSL.

My thoughts of this.
I was happy he finally explained the expansion schedule, but only 16 clubs means 30 matches a season, which I can live with. I am intrigued by the idea that there will only be 3 new cities in MLS, actually 2, San Jose has basically been promised it is coming back. So are the only other two going to be Seattle and Miami? Seattle and Philadelphia? Who knows.

The TV deal sounds very promising, but I am still trying to figure out if the whole Thursday night is not just yet another gimmick that Garber & Co. are trying to create to find yet another angle for MLS? I actually see the Thursday night matches lowering attendance, due to causing travel restrictions for out of town fans, and for fans having conflicting schedules. Look at the Wednesday match home attendances, they peak around 14,000, maybe. DC United loses a good 6,000 to 4,000 in attendance for Wednesday night matches, how are they expecting to cover that in the box office?

The announcement about the Academy systems being able to retain the rights of the players that they develop was probably the biggest thing. This means that players will be able to work their way up the club ladder, like in Europe and in South America. It gives the players a chance to work towards playing at the home of the club that developed them. It will also be able to give the fans the link to the kids who grow up through the Academy system.

All in all, I got less than I hoped for. I was hoping to hear anything other than a quick one liner about a tournament with our friends down under, assuming he meant Mexico rather than Australia. I wanted to hear about the CONCACAF Champions League, if it is even going to happen. I wanted to know more about how Toronto FC will interact with the USOC and if not, how they see/don't see that as an advantage for that club. I wanted to hear more than just the TV deal.

Anyways, the news that Garber gave was good and positive, but he still really didn't give us anything more than we didn't know.


Blogger MLS Fangirl said...

I'm probably one of the few people who's glad to hear about Thursday matches. I work the weekends, and my days off usually fall on Thursdays, so having matches on Thursday nights actually make it more likely that I can attend one. And I'd be more able to watch MLS games on ESPN2 and won't have to get that damn subscription again.

5:22 PM  

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