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MLS and its Players: Third Party Ownership? Player and Club Rights Non Existent?

galaxy chivas 300x252 MLS and its Players: Third Party Ownership? Player and Club Rights Non Existent?

Major League Soccer owns the registration of all its players excluding DPs. This has allowed MLS to maintain an (ostensibly) level playing field for many years within the league. From a competitive standpoint, MLS, due largely to this practice has become in the eyes of this writer, more compelling than the English Premier League which typically boasts the same top four sides each season.

However, with FIFA moving to ban the third party ownership of players, it can be strongly argued every MLS player who is not a DP is wrongly registered. An obvious retort to this line of thought is that MLS is not agency but a league which is sanctioned by its Federation (the USSF) and FIFA itself, unlike some of the independent agencies in South America who own third party player contracts. In fairness to MLS, when the league was founded over a decade ago, third party ownership was permitted by FIFA and this was not an issue.

However, today third party ownership is an issue, and MLS must change its rules as other football leagues and federations have done to comply with FIFA’s new directives. This situation may not be as black and white as I am sure many an MLS fan would hope.  Let’s look at the status of players whose contracts are owned by MLS rather than the individual clubs within MLS.

  • The players can be traded at any time within the MLS Transfer window to another club in the league.
  • The players whose contracts are not guaranteed can not move freely to another club within MLS even when they are terminated by their former club, thus the league terminates their contract.
  • When a player’s contract expires with the league they are not free to move to another club within the league as the rights to the player are held by his former club.
  • Even if the player’s current club agrees to sell him outside of MLS, the league has the ultimate power of veto over this deal. Since they own the player contracts, they can cancel any deal at any time.
  • A player’s team receives only a portion of a transfer fee for the player, while the bulk remains with the league. In many cases players are asked to waive their 10% of the fee under FIFA guidelines, so that the league can collect that money as well. By this standard, the players should have the right to collect 10% of the MLS’  expansion fees. After all, the players are the ones responsible for MLS’ being in the position to attract new investors. (For the record, I  have made the expansion fee analogy just to demonstrate how proposterous MLS’ practice is- I do NOT advocate returning 10% of  expansion fees to the players)
  • Given what is outlined above, are MLS players in fact “on loan” to their respective clubs? This is getting very technical but in world football terms, MLS player X would be appear to be owned by Agency MLS on loan to Houston Dynamo, or something of the sort. When player X is traded by the outside agency (MLS), they are on loan to San Jose Earthquakes.

MLS is a professional football league that is properly sanctioned as a first division for the United States by the USSF and FIFA. However, in many areas of player contracts and transfers, MLS appears to be a third party agency, whose priorities at times can conflict with not only the players, but the individual club managements that develop and field the players in question.

American soccer supporters all want to see MLS thrive. Without a strong and prosperous Major League Soccer, America’s ascent in this sport will at some point be thwarted. But at the same time it is important MLS, after 14 years of survival mode begin integrating itself more properly into the world football community. A very small part of this would be to allow player registrations to be owned by individual clubs, and allow those clubs to determine if and when they want to transfer or terminate the contract.

MLS’ investors have grown savvier of the sport over the years, and some of the new investment groups bring sophistication to the league it had previously lacked. I am sure many of these investors want to see the changes that the players are seeking: nothing radical but a simple compliance with FIFA rules regarding players’ contracts and third party ownership.

This entry was posted in Leagues: Major League Soccer, MLS CBA. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

48 Responses to MLS and its Players: Third Party Ownership? Player and Club Rights Non Existent?

  1. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    MLS will fight this tooth and nail. I am not optimistic. I wonder what the new NASL is planning on doing with regards to league owned players or true free agency. Anybody know yet?

  2. Ronald says:

    This is one of the best and most easily digestible pieces I have seen about MLS player situation lately.

    MLS, I have maintained is in violation of FIFA rules for years and years. You are certainly kinder than I, saying that several investors feel differently than the league. As far as I can tell, the league are all cheapskates who are essentially willing to screw over the American game for a couple of pennies.

    That to me is the bottom line.

  3. GYU says:

    ” In fairness to MLS, when the league was founded over a decade ago, third party ownership was permitted by FIFA and this was not an issue.”

    Well, maybe. Third Party ownership was always frowned upon and quite honestly, in the late 1990s, MLS began to lose its momentum abroad because of the single entity structure.

    From the get go MLS’ made a push to sign recognizable names to the league. Many players and fans of those players assumed the allocation draft and player registration system was temporary. But MLS, has now maintained the system for 14 YEARS!

    Kartik has often written that MLS had more full internationals who played for their national teams in 1998 than in 2009. Why is this the case? Because of the structure. No high profile foreign player who isn’t marketable enough to be a DP is going to sign an MLS contract where their rights to free movement are forfeited while presumably taking a pay cut from what they make in Europe or Mexico.

    The group of players in 1998 that Kartik refers to signed with the league at a time when they assumed the structure would change, and salary cap exemptions were more numerous than today. When the harder cap really kicked in 2000, their was an exodus from the league.

  4. Lucky Luciano says:

    And how does the ‘Expansion Draft’ fit into FIFA’s rules on freedom of movement and respecting contracts?

    Player is unprotected by team A (regardless of his wishes)
    Player is ‘traded’ to team B (regardless of his wishes)
    Player has no ability to strike a new contractual deal with team B (regardless of his wishes)

    In this area it is interesting to see the contrast with new teams in NASL/USL – they hold combines, discover new players and those players freely enter into talks over a contract. Entirely compatible with FIFA rules and normal methods of business.

    • That’s why a number of players have signed with USL and then left after a year. In MLS, that isn’t possible.

      In fact, Tampa Bay is holding a combine next month in Liverpool. As an NASL team they can sign anyone they want there, but in MLS, they’d have to file a discovery claim on one player and go through the allocation process on another.

      Yes, the expansion draft is clear example of this trouble. I probably should have posted this blog on Wednesday to coincide with that draft.

  5. Elliott says:

    Very well thought out and argued piece -

    MLS should make the move to a conventional structure ASAP because European scouts are plucking American starlets before the single entity condors get their talons stuck in. This is the same trend emerging with the NCAA and high school basketball stars – young players simply aren’t afraid to go abroad.

  6. Lucky Luciano says:

    If MLS don’t deal with this issue now – then it will cause so many difficulties for U.S soccer in the years to come.

    Because, think about it, a talented young college players is offered a rookie deal with MLS on some Walmart-level salary. He has to sign up for three years. He decides not to and to go into NASL.

    He signs an eight month contract with an NASL team which may well be above the MLS rookie salary level.

    He knows that if a European team comes in for him during that eight months, he can get a move via a normal international transfer. If that doesn’t happen, he is a free agent at the end of the season and can do as he wishes.

    If he wants to go to Europe – he has those options. If not, he can negotiate a new deal at any stage before or after his contract is up.

    Why would anyone choose MLS in that situation?

    The only reason to go MLS would be for the higher profile and possibly be more visible to foreign scouts and agents.

  7. Dave says:

    Makes me glad FIBA doesn’t have this kind of influence over the NBA.

    • Matthew N says:

      If the NBA had these kinds of rules, the NBA wouldn’t be the NBA because all the good players would be in Europe… where they can make much more money. MLS is in a different situation.. They essentially are the “only game in town” for many American players who aren’t willing/able to play in Europe.

  8. SDM says:

    “A player’s team receives only a portion of a transfer fee for the player, while the bulk remains with the league.”

    C’mon Kartik, now you’re just plain getting sloppy. You know very well the teams get two-thirds while the league gets one-third. Not exactly your best effort.

  9. Cavan says:

    FIFA contract rules are made from the perspective of a European-style league structure. They’re not applicable to a North American sports league. The business structures are just too radically different. I think the MLS and MLSPA should continue to ignore FIFA contract guidelines unless FIFA gives some sort of financial assistance to implement their policies. The context for the basic concepts just simply does not translate to a league that is currently a niche in its country.

    That’s not excusing the league for everything. There are plenty of things that need to be improved in the next CBA such as minimum salaries. I just don’t think that FIFA understands he soccer business climate here in the slightest. You can’t just copy and paste ideas from Europe and expect them to be a good thing in our business climate.

    • Tim says:

      What a cop out, Cavan. I am so tired of hearing the “American exception” for all of MLS’ nuances and violations of basic soccer principles.

      The game will fail many like you claim if we follow the rest of the world. It has to be Americanized to work.

      Some of us think the opposite.

      MLS and its 15 year tight hold of salaries and even more crazy these dumb rules that nobody from outside can understand and that prevents good coaches from coming to the league and prevents good middle range foreign players from signing is costing the league any chance of long term relevance.

  10. Padre Joe says:

    One of the things that I have wondered about is how much manipulation does the league do in forcing the teams to look a certain way? I know the league has vetoed sales, but have they ever vetoed a signing that a club wanted to do or forced a player on a club? This really came to light for me when McBride came back to the MLS. I am a Fire supporter and I was glad that McBride wanted to come to our team although I hated the process that we had to go through. At the time, I wondered if McBride for Barret was a good deal for us and if we ever had a choice in the matter. With the power that the league has, could it be feasible that the league told the Fire they were getting McBride and told them what the cost would be even if the Fire didn’t necessarily want him? No complaints two years later, but it makes me nervous that the league could manipulate rosters for the “better of the league” at the cost of a local club. Perhaps I’m sounding too much like a paranoid supporter looking for excuses for his teams behavior, but at what point does it move from prudent management to the fix being on?

  11. Jack says:

    Apart from the technicalities of the single-entity/third-party ownership setup of the MLS, the league’s structure is the best interest of the USSF rather than the players, clubs and, most importantly, the fans. Dynasties are good for a sport, as opposed to a league of differing levels of mediocrity. The European leagues do not suffer from having their mainstays, the NY Cosmos made the old NASL far more popular and UCLA basketball made ‘March Madness.’

    A dynasty (or dynasties) raises the competitive spirit of the other teams and brings name recognition. Anyone who was not a fan of the NASL in the 70′s still knew the name ‘NY Cosmos’ (which, incidentally, the rights to which the MLS tried to secure when first formed and they had to settle for ‘Metrostars’ in a lame attempt at approximation).

    The MLS stifles competition, quashes dissent, and bullies players and clubs alike. It will never achieve top-tier status until it decides (or is forced to) return day-to-day control of the clubs to their owners rather than treating the club owners as custodial caretakers.

  12. dan says:

    alot of changes need to be made but also FIFA needs to step in on the the crazy spending of other clubs. soccer is trying to build its popularity here while the rest of the world makes it hard for the MLS to take the next steps. Example if Charlie Davies would have played in the MLS after college would that have helped the league take the steps need to get where we want the league. The MLS lack that american grown dominate Player. The rest of the world take the players before the MLS can have there Grezkey, Jordan, Ruth, or Montana. I sugest Demostic Salary Caps for each League.

  13. dan says:

    now for the USA i think the MLS needs to raise the Salary Cap to at least 4 million for 2 years and see where that goes. MLS then must have talk with ESPN about the lack of coverage on the network. a MLS show would be a good start, This would help people get to know who the teams are and who the players are. MORE EXPOSURE MORE RATINGS AND BUTTS IN THE SEATS. A magazine deal for Depth Charts and news around the League. this would help our players get more commercial deals and raise money around the league.

  14. Yorkie says:

    Honestly, like some others I am sick of those who claim American exceptionalism, when it comes to the sporting environment. I look at it like this. Was America or wasn’t America not the birthplace of modern capitalism? So why is it that we feel the need to have a socialist sporting system? Honestly, why and please don’t give me that ‘for the sake of parity’ bull shit, b/c Americans still watch baseball and I don’t think I have to explain that those who spend the most ala NYY are usually at the top.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Yorkie, modern capitalism originated in Europe, not America. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Jack says:

        Adam Smith may have written ‘The Wealth of Nations’ but America put it to practice and perfected it! :o)

        • Chris in Belfast says:

          Oh, come on, that’s not even remotely true. Pure ethnocentrism there. The capitalist economies in European countries have been just as developed as American ones. Plus, capitalism predates The Wealth of Nations, which was published the year the US declared independence from the UK.

          • Jack says:

            Yes, but isn’t the point of this type of banter to ignore the facts and just throw things out there that sound pithy? :)

            Seriously though, the European leagues are more meritocratic than the American sports leagues by far, which I find ironic. Other American sports leagues follow the franchise model wherein the team owners and the league are one in the same entity when determining league issues. But MLS is run as if it were that model only the owners do not have the same influence because another body, the USSF, calls the shots. No other American league allows an international governing body to oversee the sport within US borders (e.g. the NBA does not submit itself to FIBA).

  15. Yorkie says:

    Gaffer,
    I stand roundly chasitised. Now, perhaps it makes a little more sense, though I am still rather annoyed with it all.

    Cheers,
    Yorkie

  16. Ray says:

    I am so freaking tired of this.

    Kartik, if you want MLS to fail, please be honest and say so. If you want the US team to fail please be honest and say so.

    It is obvious to the vast majority of US fans youy are against both. You use the term eurosnob when in fact you are the biggest eurosnob of all.

    MLS MUST MAINTAIN THIS STRUCTURE. THE LEAGUE IS A SUCCESS STORY UNQIQUE TO AMERICA. THEY HAVE SURVIVED FOR 15 YEARS AGAINST A HOSTILE PRESS AND EUROSNOBS LIKE YOURSELF.

    The players are being selfish. Without MLS, they’d be working building roads or making a couple bucks playing semi professional soccer in USL.

    MLS has built a nationwide high quality product, the first in American soccer history. Our national team is better than ever.

    But people like Kartik who have no desire other than to drive traffic to this site and to stroke their own ego by appearing on a bunch of shows as an “expert” on a sport you want to see fail in this country have created this issue out of nothing.

    The majority of MLS players are happy to have a good professional league to play in. Simply because FIFpro is trying to make headlines in the US to recruit new members and Kartik along with a few other select bloggers and former players want to tear down the league for personal gain.

    MLS has to have its structure to survive and FIFA knows it. They have already stated according to Grant Wahl’s piece the other day in SI.com, that I recommend everyone read instead of this garbage that they affirm MLS is within the rules and will not dignify the FIFpro slander with intervention.

    MLS is more popular than ever and has become a truly national league with lots of interest in big league towns. Next year, The Red Bulls will escape the shadow of the Cosmos with a new stadium that makes the team more popular than the Cosmos of Kartik’s NASL ever were.

    Speaking of Kartik, perhaps he can write a piece on how USL’s structure which is now collapsing would have been better for MLS?

    Don Garber knows what he is doing and he is correct when he states that negative press hurts the game in this country and its development. If you have nasty things to say about MLS, do us a favor and don’t say it all. Unless, of course you want the game to fail.

    • Matt says:

      MLS is a “high quality” league? Compared to what? Any MLS team would struggle to avoid relegation from the Football League Championship to League One.

      It takes more than 16 teams with one or two (at most) decent players each to make a league “high quality”.

      • Ray says:

        The worst MLS team would avoid relegation to the Championship.

        Does any relegation threatened team in england have a player like Angel? Cunningham?

        The top MLS teams would contend for Europe. Real Salt Lake and LA both would be top 10 teams in the EPL.

        People who read this blog are easily brainwashed by Kartik and Daniel constant negatvity. They also listen to British programs where the fear of the US and MLs is very high.

        We are the most powerful nation on the planet and everyone is envious of us. So the press beats up on our soccer but like 2002 and last year’s Confederations Cup proves we are among the elite worldwide. LA also drew with AC Milan this summer. Even USL teams have fared alright against English Championship teams with Preston of the Championship losing three matches to USL teams in 2007.

        FIFA knows that its rules are applicable to Euro soccer and have wisely backed off in the case of MLS.

        • Jack says:

          “The top MLS teams would contend for Europe. Real Salt Lake and LA both would be top 10 teams in the EPL.”

          Looks like we’ve discovered the first recipient of the medical marijuana program. RSL didn’t even finish above .500 for the full season in MLS. A three-round cup run in England is several rounds away from silverware.

    • man99utd says:

      they would get paid more building roads, and they wouldn’t have to work as hard….

  17. Roger says:

    “The top MLS teams would contend for Europe. Real Salt Lake and LA both would be top 10 teams in the EPL.”

    Are you on medication???!?!?!!!!!
    The best MLS teams struggle to beat teams from Panama and Honduras. USL outperformed them on Concacaf Champions League.

    Is this for real???? This people got to be paid by MLS or something.

  18. Roger says:

    I am amazed that there is a point that nobody talks about on this forums.
    There is a philosophy in wich soccer tournaments on the international level as well as the club level are attach to.Which is inclusion.

    Look how many countries try to qualify to the world cup, some of them are tiny islands that realistically have no chance but they are still granted a try. This is an essential reason why our sport is the most popular on the planet.
    A league with a limited number of clubs, on such a big country; no only makes no sense, but put US out of touch with this philossophy.
    The main goal of this league should had been to capture the essense of the game, wich is the passion that this game generates. That passion comes from all the different associations that the fans give their teams; some times social, others political, regional, historical and sometimes even racial.
    This bussinesmen created not only the league, but they also created the teams, their names, uniforms. Therefore the best for US soccer is for this league to fail, and start from scratch until we get it right.
    This league lacks soul.There is not authenticity. It is a synthetic produt.

    Roger

  19. mitch howard says:

    this is how MLS thought they could put it all together, saving money on the back-end. they fronted everything for years with plans on paying low bargain rates to players. now, it has caught up with them. if they pay more to the players (back-end), they’ll have less for the front-end. now, they have to be weary of the NASL too. It’s the perfect storm.

    By paying the players more, their bottom line takes a much bigger hit.

  20. dan says:

    The MLS is my league. It always will be. Im happy to see new leagues in this country pop up. But my first soccer experience is the MLS. I don’t every wanna see this league fold. Yea i agree some changes need to be made. The first change is the anti American Soccer fans that are Americans. Its ok to watch the other leagues, but if your a TRUE soccer/footballer it is time to support your home league and team. whether it is the USL, MLS, or the NASL. Stop being whining little sissy and support these league and push for improvement in these leagues. Im sick of hearing we have to be like europe. I support Capitalism with a cap. BASEBALL IS BORING TO ME BECAUSE OF THE FACT THERE IS NO CAP and if you think about it the sport is dieing. I hate the NEW YORK YANKEES BECAUSE THEY BUY THERE TROPHY. THEY DONT EARN IT. I LIKE THE NFL BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT. ITS FUN.

  21. Allen says:

    This is all an exercise in academic masturbation until FIFA actually shows they could give 2 hoots about the MLS resembling a 3rd party owning players. To the best of my knowledge no one in FIFA HQ has ever expressed that they are looking to treat the MLS as the above 3rd party structure. That shouldn’t be surprising though since this policy by FIFA is a play by existing clubs to lock out competition when it comes to player ownership. No matter how much the MLS may look like that, they’re really not competing with the big clubs in that way.

  22. Charles says:

    Cavan is exactly right in the “American Exception”…..

    There is no way America would support the structure they have in Europe with one team winning every year, two to four in contention.
    The average American couldn’t name three teams in Spain, but I bet they could tell you the two who are going to be at the top. That just does NOT fly in America.

    AMERICA WILL NOT ROOT FOR PERENIAL LOSERS LIKE EUROPE WILL.

    The AVERAGE, yes AVERAGE team in the EPL was like 500-1 to win it all. No MLS soccer team would have been there….none.

    Relegation ? Noone is going to root for a team with no chance to win it all. Relegation is just plain dumb.
    Why would I want my team in the second division ? My Seahawks were in the Super Bowl three years ago, now I have to hope they can make it back to the league that plays for the Super Bowl, while playing a meaning less season ?
    That is maybe the stupidest idea I have ever heard of.

  23. Roger says:

    AMERICA WILL NOT ROOT FOR PERENIAL LOSERS LIKE EUROPE WILL.

    …….and the solution is to create a mediocre league wich struggles to defeat central american clubs.

    Futball is the reflexion of live.There are big cities, there are small cities.You go down, you keep on fighting to get back up again.
    It does not make sense to have a NY soccer club eliminated by a club from T.T in the Conc. Champions League. When we finally make things right, NY soccer club should be compared to manchester or Barcelona.

    If FIFA would use your kind of mentality, the mayority of the countries in the world would not even play the W.C qualifiers.
    It should not be about your team only.Pro/rel is the only way to give every City a chance to have a team.
    It is ethically wrong that a selected group of people practically “own” the game in the US.
    The right thing to do, if we really care about the fans,is to give them the chance to see their local soccer club playing live on their home fields.

  24. Roger says:

    The ideal soccer league should be disigned not from preconceived ideas,but designed to make sense.
    lets see: if we were to debate the important pionts to design a league specially design for this country we would have to ask ourself a few questions and see what answers we can come up with.

    -relationship between owners and league
    -salary cap
    -Promotion and relegation?
    (if yes to pro/rel)
    -single table?how many clubs on first div?
    -playoffs or not
    -how many teams to the playoffs
    -how many divisions
    -how many clubs per division
    -how to accomplish youth development
    -how to encourage soccer specific stadiums

    This is my view :

    -relationship between owners and league
    The way it is in pretty much all the main soccer leagues in the world.The owner or entity in charge is in control of the club and therefore responsible for the club socces or failure.The league directors take care of the administrative and disciplinary issues but dont control the desicions the club makes

    -salary cap?
    None.
    There is no salary cap in the rest of the soccer world against a US league will have to compete if it want to keep their talent.Not to mention this league would also have to compete against the other traditional american sports wich have the best talent on their fields.
    Having a salary cap only benefits the owners.It takes away one on the main advantages that a US soccer league should have in order to atract the best soccer talent in the world; money.

    -Promotion and relegation?
    If we dont use this system,there is basically no way we coulnt leave out about 30 States with no club to represent them.
    It is a system use in all the important leagues in the world.It has proven to be suscesfull.
    It will get us on the same page with the internationall soccer comunity.
    by opening the door for lot of smaller clubs on the lower divisions,we will be present in all those markets that none of the big 4 are.
    we will give comunities a chance of watching ther clubs live,not on tv like the mayority of the country have to do with traditional american sports.I could go on and on.promotion and relegation is a YES.

    -single table?how many clubs on first div?
    well, this two issues are definitly related.The model for the best soccer leagues in the world is 20 clubs,so we should have at least that many. However if we design the league tu specifically suit us,and consider our size compared to the other countries,we could probably have a few more clubs on our first div.
    I like the idea of the single table,but the distances to travel would increase the costs of runing the clubs and play also a factor on the fitness of players.So East and west conferences make sense.
    14 clubs per division
    winner of each division qualifyo to Conc Champions
    first 3 per division qualify to playoffs
    divisional play would be 26 games(13 home and 13 away)
    playoffs would be 6 clubs to play minileague of home and away games.
    that would be 10 playoff games(5 home and 5 away)
    winner of playoffs qualifies to CCL.
    Total games : 26 regular seasson+10 playoffs=36 games(2 games less than the standard world league wich plays 19 home+19 away=38) Right on target!!
    Bottom 2 clubs per table are relegated to div 2. (total relegated clubs 4 out 28)it could also be 3 per div=6 out of 28. we could debate that.

    -how many divisions?
    Depending on the clubs that afiliate.Ideally a lot do!! It will depend on the standard set to do so.
    Standards should be set with the philosophy to have as many clubs affiliated as posible and adjusted periodically to adapt to the changing reality of the league
    2nd division should have 4 conferences.On a lower division the clubs make less money so in order to keep expenses low, doble the number of conferences will make travel distances shorter.
    The structure should be piramydal with the first div on top, and wide at the buttom(taking all that groung that the big 4 forgetts about)

    -how to accomplish youth development
    having diferent club levels is the best way to accomplish that.Isted of trining in an academy,lot of youth will have the chance of playing regularly on lower div clubs,with a lower level of stress than the upper divisions,but playing for real important points.There is no better experience than that.

    -how to encourage soccer specific stadiums
    making it a must have if you want to be on 1st div will do it.Of course there would have to be exeptions at the begining.When the league get big it will be extended to 1st and 2nd.It could be a 5,000/10,000 capacity,but soccer specific.

    • Cavan says:

      Hmm… you just described England.

      Big surprise.

      It took 100 years for England to get where they now are, for better or worse. We don’t have 100 years. We don’t want to be England. What they’ve got is good for them. We need to develop our own.

  25. Roger says:

    there are differences in the model I described and Englands.If you overlooked them you could go back and check them out.

    • Cavan says:

      yes, but the major points are quite comparable. It would appear that you started with England and then did your best to adapt them.

  26. Charles says:

    Nice job, you just designed a system that will fail in the US.
    (And a boring one at that….BTW, Barcelona beat Real Madrid in the only game worth having in Spain)

    US WILL NOT SUPPORT PERENIAL LOSERS. THAT IS EUROPE.

  27. Roger says:

    Ok ,so we have our different views.Thats OK.
    I would like to know what part of my “system” you dont like.
    I would like to know what would you do different, and why.

    Inspite of our differences, the facts cant not be ignored!!

    Promotion and relegation is used not only in Europe but worldwide.It is the system used by all the best leagues in the planet.It is used in all the World Champion countries. It has been in practice,and proven suscesfull for more than a century.
    The issue of identity has been manipulated bastly in the US..””We are different, we dont have to imitate them””. The right place to show identity is on the pitch.
    We have not ever have a really suscesfull league.We have never used a promotion and relegation system. Dont you think it makes sense to give it a try.
    We have allready try shoot-outs, wich is not even on the rules of the game, but we wont try promotion and relegation!!!!!

  28. Jleau says:

    On the issue of promotion/relegation, I think the world has something to learn from us. There is no evidence that this system is superior. What’s so great about watching Bolton struggle to be 17th and then get all excited about it?

    A salary cap is probably one of the best things to happen to the NFL and it’s probably the most balanced compelling sporting league in the world.

    I’m not saying the MLS cap doesn’t need to be improved, but there is nothing wrong with having it and in the long run the fans will be better off with it.

    • man99utd says:

      The salary cap works for American sports because there is no real talent making similar sums of money anyhwere else in the world. That’s not the case in football. England, Spain, and Italy are paying huge sums for real talent. If MLS is going to attract more talent and thus attract more attention to the league its got to come to grips with this somehow. The EPL is the best league in the world (imo) because of its international flavour.

      • Jleau says:

        Very astute point. I’m not sure that MLS is anywhere near trying to grab the talent that the major Euro leagues are going after but the global nature of football presents issues that the NFL and NBA do not face.

        Incidentally, I think all leagues would be better off with caps. Probably never happen but a more balanced EPL would be more compelling. Although I agree that it’s the best in the world.

  29. Jleau says:

    Kartik,

    Nice article but I think you’ve only hit on half the problem. How can MLS really move to a better system with the players when the league has owners with multiple teams? I would love to see the MLS move to a system where the teams owned the players and functioned more like a traditional league. I honestly can’t see how they achieve that until they get to a point where it’s one team per owner.

    Ownership issues, in my opinion are one of the biggest issues for the league to deal with.

  30. Roger says:

    “There is no evidence that this system is superior”

    Think of any great soccer club in this planet, on any of the continents, that doesnt play on a league that practices promotion and relegation!!
    Please let me know if you can come up with one!

    If that is not evidence, what is?

  31. thomas says:

    I have to laugh when I hear the same old tired assumption that Americans will not support losers.

    In a closed league operated on the national level it is easy to fall back on outdated assumptions because there is no way to prove the quality of any performance and only because there is no alternative. In an open globalised structure competitive comparisons can easily be made and fans are demanding that the barriers to improvement are lifted so that everyone can play on a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.

    Players represent the organisation on the field and fans represent them in the stands. Right now US MNT is highly unlikely to be the winner of the World Cup and no US club side can compete in a meaningful match with the best of the rest of the Concacaf region let alone the best in the world. Yet fans are supporting these ‘losers’ in greater numbers – 1-in-every-3 US citizens is expected to watch at least one match at the world cup!

    The top level of soccer in the USA is not at the top level in world term, everyone accepts this fact, but nobody should be satisfied with it. Change is essential; change is inevitable.

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