MLS Asks Fox Soccer Channel For $20 Million A Year For TV Rights

The executives at Major League Soccer defy logic. Take for example the TV viewing numbers for this 2010 season which recently ended. The viewing numbers were down 12% compared to last year on ESPN2. And they remained flat on Fox Soccer Channel with an average of 53,000 viewers during the regular season.

With dismal numbers like that, what do you think Major League Soccer would say to Fox when approaching the broadcaster about renewing its TV rights deal especially when you consider that it was only a couple of years ago that MLS paid Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN to show its games on their networks.

Well, the news has been announced today that Major League Soccer has asked Fox Soccer Channel to renew its TV deal at $20 million a year — nearly seven times more than the $3 million that FSC has paid annually since 2007, according to several sources reported to Sports Business Journal.

If I was Fox Soccer Channel, I would tell MLS to shove off. Fox pays a lot less for rights to other leagues and gets better viewing audience numbers for those than its MLS games, so what incentive is there for Fox to pay the $20 million a year ransom?

There is one incentive, however. If Fox Soccer Channel is serious about bidding for the US TV rights to the upcoming World Cup tournaments in 2018 and 2022, part of the deal may be that Fox also needs to have the rights to televise MLS games.

Negotiations have to start somewhere so maybe Major League Soccer’s offer of $20 million per year is their “shoot for the stars” opening bid and the two parties will negotiate from there.

Meanwhile, fans of Major League Soccer who are hoping for Versus to step in to bid on MLS may be disappointed to learn that Versus has not met with MLS since September 2010, and talks did not advance to the point where specific rights fees were discussed, according to a Versus executive who asked not to be identified.

115 thoughts on “MLS Asks Fox Soccer Channel For $20 Million A Year For TV Rights”

  1. MLS has lost its mind! Fox should dump MLS and pick up Mexico or South American League or another Euro League. 50,000 viewers is terrible for Fox MLS Saturday. Garber better focus more on field product rather than expanding this league even further.

  2. I was dissappointed with Versus, but I was hoping that MLS would switch from Fox Soccer Channel, which is a joke.

    At least ESPN has other sports….pathetic and stupid, but understandable.
    FSC is a SOCCER channel in the US, and they don’t do MLS right ?

    I like your word RANSOM. Sorry, but you are off the deep end Gaffer.
    You really think that is only worth $3mm a year ? XBOX paid $3 million “ransom” to have their name on a shirt, and a million+ more for the tarps at QWest.

    But the rights for a game a week on MLS is only worth $3 million ? Anything more is a Ransom fee ?

    Well make a prediction then. The rights will go for
    a. $20 million
    b. $15 million
    c. $10 million
    d. $5 million
    e. $0 million, they won’t renew it isn’t even worth $3 million

  3. i hope the Versus deal is not dead because i liked how Versus wants to showcase MLS like it does with the NHL.
    I also heard that FSC offered 7mil a year and MLS asked for 20mil its just bidding right now and i think when all is said in done the deal will be between 12mil to 16mil per year.

    1. You think the deal will be 12-16 million per year? Based on what, pixie dust?

      By the way, everyone complaining about not having FSC HD should be strongly against them paying $20 mil/year for MLS rights. If FSC has to shell out cash like that it will only cause them to demand more money from cable and satellite providers to carry their signal, including the HD channel. That’s how all these carriage disputes start: the channel has to pay more for rights so they demand more from distribution partners.

  4. Charles, I would like for MLS to stay with FSC but I really don’t see FSC picking up that kind of contract. That is a ton of money for entertainment that doesn’t attract viewers. I even fear ESPN will cut its rate with MLS if the numbers keep tumbling.

    MLS seriously needs to address this issue on why people are not tuning in to watch the domestic league. A lot has to do with the level of play in my honest opinion. I am not for signing big foreign expensive talent but feel that clubs should scout young entertaining talent. Our system of putting college scrubs just isn’t drawing.

      1. Is that all you think it takes for someone to buy a product? Advertising and hype? Because if it is I have some junk I would like to sell you.

          1. Dan,
            What is on the pitch is the problem. I am not for signing aging foreign talent but I am for signing young-entertaining-quality talent that MLS can sale for a huge profit and re-invest those gains back into the league.

            Fancy ad campaigns and gimmicks only gets you so far because once those wear off people start to notice that most of our guys don’t have a quality first touch. This isn’t the 70’s where no one has access to foreign TV in facy we all do and its very easy to compare and contrast.

          2. “That is a ton of money for entertainment that doesn’t attract viewers.”

            Yeah my bike is probably not worth what I paid for it because it goes so slow for me.
            My running shoes are worth about $1.50….new.

            Have you seen the FSC broadcasts ? I can’t even stand to watch the highlights Sunday AM on….

    1. we don’t tune into the domestic league because its not structured like a real soccer league. 10 teams out of 18 now will make the playoffs. Why on earth will i turn into the meaningless regular season?

      the traditional soccer fan in this country wants a real soccer league that is modelled after europe/japan/south america. yes that means single table/pro/rel/ no silly drafts or super drafts.

      the last few years i watched an mls game now and then. I’m boycotting it this year.

  5. Another way of thinking about this is if FSC were paying $20m or even $10m a year they would likely improve the broadcasts and actually promote the MLS games. Who knows, if they were paying this much FSC might get to air a game or two on the main Fox network.

    MLS has many problems but that doesn’t mean they are crazy to ask for this. NHL is getting more then $70m a year from versus, so MLS asking for about $20m is close to inline with that number. If they were to get it, that would mean a massive increase in the funds the league would have to promote itself and pay for talent.

    I think good move by MLS as long as they are willing to negotiate.

    1. NHL viewership has been steadily rising over the past few seasons.

      Game 3 of last year’s Stanley Cup finals (on Versus) had around 3.6 million viewers. That’s a huge number for that channel.

      I know people like to make the comparison between MLS and hockey, primarily because they both trail the “big three” sports in the US, but MLS has a long way to go to catch up to the NHL audience.

      1. Clampdown,

        I agree that hockey does better then MLS which is why I think getting ~25% of the TV deal NHL gets is about right for MLS.

        By the way, I think there is some similarity as NHL saw its TV numbers drop off just about every year from the early 2000’s till 2008 when things started to pickup thanks in part to better marketing by NBC (the outdoor Winter Classic is a nice example of this) and a bigger push by Versus.

        You are correct that MLS has a long way to go to get the audience of NHL and they are not going to get there without serious buy in by TV networks.

        1. Yeah, for sure on that last point, Mike.

          I guess what I’m getting at is that the NHL also had an existing fan base that has survived a few work stoppages over the past two decades, the loss of a big TV deal with ESPN, and the highly effective yet enjoyment-crushing introduction of the trap defense. I do think, however, that the Versus deal has done a lot for the league. While the production values can’t match ESPN, it is far better than what we get with FSC.

          I don’t want to kill FSC here because I appreciate their role in providing access to soccer. I’m just hoping they will put more into their MLS production if they do ink a new deal.

  6. $20 million is just about right, Rupert Murdoch has the money, so pony up. I swear if Fox Soccer Channel don’t pick up the option, I’m canceling my subscription. I don’t care about watching The EPL or Serie A, this is America and an American Soccer Channel should cover an American soccer league, no matter what the cost.

    1. Hey, what business school did you go to? I’d like to know because I’d want to stay as far as way as possible.

      FACT: News Corp, the company which owns FSC was founded in Australia. More to the fact, it’s Fox Soccer Channel, not Fox American Soccer Channel.

      FACT: Since you don’t care about watching EPL or Serie A, you obviously don’t care about watching some of the best footballers in the world.

      FACT: Those fixtures you apparently don’t care about absolutely MURDER MLS in the ratings. I’m not xenocentric enough to demand a inferior product simply because it’s from the same country I am. You go on right ahead, though.

    2. AMEN BROTHER! ratings will not change over night but if they put a little more into the broadcasts and actually show that they care it will not cure the ratings problem but its a step in the right direction.

    3. Here come the eurosnobs!

      How about supporting your local club and your domestic league!

      If all the “soccer” fans in the USA supported MLS it would have enough money to bring itself up to the talent of Serie A and EPL clubs (or at least Ligue Un and Bundesliga).

      1. You do have to wonder about the intelligence of people who come to a website called MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER TALK and don’t like major league soccer.

      2. I support club soccer not FRANCHISE SOCCER!

        Garber: “May I take your order?”

        Sounders Fan: “I would like two Sounders Scarves, A cute euro influenced song, and extra large playoffs”

        G:”Would you like a contrived regional rival with that?”

        SF:”Is that extra?”

        G:”yes, 40 Million”.

        SF:”I’ll take two please”.

        G:”Thank you drive through”.


        1. And yet I’ve been called “negative” on this blog?

          All you do is complain about the fact that MLS doesn’t use the system you want.

          And it continues to do that.

          And you continue to complain.

          See where I’m going with this?

          1. If you like spending your hard earned money at the McDonalds of soccer I have no problem with that. I have a problem with MLS fans pretending that they actually have club soccer. They are the first to bitch about europosers but yet they are chanting while wearing their scarves in 80 degree weather.

        2. Actually most sounders fans I know would prefer clubs over franchises, no or smaller playoffs, and consider the rivalry with Portland to be an existing rivalry that has been around for 30+ years and is not contrived.

          IN other words they agree with you, but if they are like me are also sick of complaining and instead decide to enjoy what we do have. Try it.

      3. Buy America!!!

        I watch the Euro leagues on the internet. Don’t question my love for football, but I”m a American first and I don’t all misty eyed for the old country, I guess most of you watch football to be hip, no wonder the mainstream media hates us, Eurosnobs like Sergio, Charles and Tom.

        1. What !?!?!
          I AM A EUROSNOB ?!?!

          The guy who invented the term Euridiot?
          The guy who tried to watch a year of EPL and couldn’t make it through because it is SOO badly run ?
          The guy who is the biggest MLS fan out there ?

          No. I don’t watch soccer to be hip, I watched Kyle Rote Jr play…..there was NOTHING hip about that back in the 70s.

          Keep watching MLS kickit…but quit ticking me off by calling unforgivable names.

      4. It is amazing how determined some of you “Mayor Lie Soccer” fans are to look anywhere but to the real issue!

        MLS is a joke! It is make believe! Thats is the problem! No amount of marketing is going to change that!

        Ironically, some say that if we support the league it may bring itself to be like the Bundesliga. Think about it! Look at international soccer,where are the bigger leagues on the world ? On the richer and bigger countries ,right?! Where are the bigger and better clubs ? Well, on Brazil they are on Sao Paulo and Rio ; on Spain it is Madrid and Barcelona ; Italy , Milan and Rome ; England , London and Manchester ; and so on! Soccer reflects life!

        If we had in place the same rules that gobern international soccer, we will become very soon one of the bigger and better leagues, because we are one of the bigger, if not the biggest nation on the planet, and definitly among the riccher.

        The only thing we have to do in order to be one of the better leagues on the world is to LET SOCCER BE! And it will do what it does EVERYWHERE! It will reflect life and we will become what we should be by default.

        1. Dude, soccer is a game that’s played for fun and entertainment of the fans. Pro leagues are an entertainment product regardless of where you are in the world or the nitty-gritty of the business model.

          I don’t know where you get your ideas that if MLS just ditched its entire internal business organizational structure that every team would magically become as talented as Barcelona. La Liga can’t sustain more than two super-teams and they’re both up their ears in debt. Meanwhile, the others are already irrelevant and getting more irrelevant by the week.

          Your idea sounds like a recipe for disaster. If it doesn’t work for a league that’s its country’s only major league, why would it work for an up-and-coming league that has four other major leagues in front of it that have established fanbases and media presence.

          1. Forget about Spain and England for a second. Do you know what is Mexico’s cheapest roster?! It is Queretaro’s $ 16 million !

            No clubs but “franchises” instead. 20 teams on a country that counts 50 States. Salary cap. Draft , recontradraft and recontrasuperdraft. Synthetic parity. 10 teams play-offs. Single entity. 3 DP by team ; players that are paid using a diferent criteria than the rest of their team-mates.Etc ,etc,etc. How come you are suposed to call yourself soccer fans and BE OK with all this crap !?

            What would it take for you to WAKE UP and realize that it is the set of rules that we have been IMPOSED the only thing holding our game down in north america?

            A cheap burger will never be a rib eye stake! No matter how much marketing you do, it will never feel or taste like the real deal!

          1. I love… ABSOLUTELY LOVE having words put in my mouth.

            At what point did I ever say I disliked MLS? At what point did I ever say I didn’t support FC Dallas?

            Yeah, I guess the call I placed earlier today to get a flex package of tickets actually didn’t take place.

            Is MLS an inferior product? YOU WOULD BE BLIND TO THINK IT WASN’T!

            The fact of the matter is that MLS asking for $20M when their viewership is dismal is just bad business, pure and simple.

        2. Why is letting currupt FIFA somehow soccer in its natural state and soccer under MLS is contrived and fake? They are two different things but both are no less fake than the other.

    1. I have no idea what context in which to place these figures, other than the $3 million paid over previous seasons, which is only part of the equation. The number MLS is asking sounds high, but is it really? I guess the answer to that depends on what you think of the league’s potential (including viewership) over the next several years.

      I’ve got to believe the quality of play will keep improving and better players will give the league a try. But, the production from Fox leaves a lot to be desired. They don’t seem to ever capture the atmosphere of a match the way ESPN does. I would imagine if you were a new fan of the league, or the sport in general, you wouldn’t be drawn in by what’s currently offered.

      1. If you’re talking just viewership, MLS is behind Serie A, so it should get between 7-9 I’d say. Add the US games value and the fact that it is the American league and I think you can see an agreement for between 10-12. 20 seems pretty wild though.

    2. The domestic league should be more valuable than overseas leagues of equal talent. This means MLS could very well be more valuable than EPL or Serie A in the American media market.

      Sort of like how Landon Donovan is more valuable to MLS than he is to an EPL club. Locals want to watch their local club, even if it’s much worse quality than the fancy shmancy leagues from Europe.

        1. Wow Clampdown, calm down. He said the quality was “much worse”.
          Don’t worry noone stated MLS was even half way good.

          I will state something if you need something to get riled up about.
          I just finished watching WBA-ManU. What a joke, the officiating sucked, the passing was worse and when they finally gave a penalty WBA missed it. I could have shot better….seriously.

  7. i find this so Laughable to the highedst degree. MLS should Pitch no more than 6 million each to FSC and VS and give both the option year. But thats Just me. I guess im a genius or something LOL.

    FSC is hardly available in alot of places, and where it is available hardly anyone buys it. so If I was mLS i would look for a network that is more available to viewwers, Like Turner, USA ,VS, spike G4 Nickoldeon?? just a thought.

    1. I Don’t know who hurts soccer in the USA more Eurosnobs or Soccerphobs.
      I guess i have to say that atleast you know where the Soccerphobs Stand, While Eurosnobs like to pretend they like soccer but yet can’t even support their own local team (MLS, NASL, USL, or even College Soccer.) Eurosnobs seem to think their Poo smells like roses when it smells like S#!t. Eurosnobs are Posers and are a complete waste of space.

      1. Yeah, it’s all the “Eurosnobs” fault.

        It’s called a free market, capitalistic society – fans will support the BEST PRODUCT. Ratings, attendance, merchandising…these things represent choices made by fans as to where to allocate their time and money.

        You seem to think people in America should watch MLS simply because it’s American? Sorry, the beauty of this country is people are free to make their own choices.

        Complaining about so-called “Eurosnobs” will not help MLS succeed (and it only makes you look immature and petty). MLS will succeed when it puts out a product that the majority of fans want to be a part of. Currently, they don’t do that. For whatever reason – talent, atmosphere, or anything else – people choose not to invest in MLS. Instead of blaming somebody else, why don’t you focus on the things that hold MLS back? But, of course, that requires something other than a sound bite or snark comment about “Eurosnobs”.

        1. “Yeah, it’s all the “Eurosnobs” fault.”

          Actually it is. If all you so called “soccer fans” supported the domestic league we wouldnt be having this issue. Do me a favor Bobbyb…Go put youre bandwagon Man U jersey, watch the EPL on tv ONLY, and leave this site. You are not a real fan, i dont care what you say.

          1. Thats why we need to push for a stronger D2 and D3 leagues and teams. I’m thinking When MLS has 20 teams they will start working on creating a Viable D2 league or Work With NASL to Make sure D2 is a strong Viable league, and then look into the possibility when the time is right for a Pro/Rel.

        1. Amen ToM. Best game I watched this year:
          U-8 girls game.
          Second best was a u-10 boys game.

          Eurosnob would not watch that…too much like MLS, because EPL is way better. The talent level for the u-8 girls game just does NOT stack up to EPL and you are blind if you can’t see that.

          1. IT is true Robert. Not sure how anyone could say anything different. They were exciting game, watching players develop, but just not the quality that the Eurosnob needs.

            They can’t watch MLS, because there is better out there.

            Funny, too ( in a “they are a moron” way ) because they are the same people saying MLS needs a second division, like they are really going to watch that.

  8. FSC has also seen almost a 40% increase in the number of households they have access to since 2006. If they want to continue to grow, they can’t walk away from MLS.

    Hey, they won’t pay if you don’t ask. It will probably end up being around $6 million per year.

  9. The TV viewership numbers speak to the truth that fans are not impressed by what they are seeing on the field. Average at-home attendances up by only 600 asses-in-seats since last year and that’s probably only because of the Philly “bounce”. All MLS’ efforts appear to be directed at marketing, hype, drafts, re-entry drafts, 2nd round re-entry drafts, etc. Everything BUT what’s on the field. And, no, hiring mid-30’s end-of-career “superstars” doesn’t count.
    MLS continues to rub many the wrong way because they insist they’re always listening to the fans and although the fans are loudly calling for changes MLS does nothing. Paying lip service, saying one thing while doing another.
    Not worth $20 million. Even if they knew what they were doing.

  10. What MLS needs is clubs not franchises! And they need to get rid of the playoffs! If they do these two things they can instantly charge FSC $50 million for the games!! This will make everything better!!!!

    1. MLs teams are clubs, they might notbe the eurosnobby stuff u would see in europe but this is american soccer who cares what europe does. Without playoff MLS won’t survive.

      1. MLS teams are not clubs they are franchises. MLS Cup final saw ratings drop 44%. lets see how long ESPN will even keep it on its primary station with those numbers.

          1. lysander,

            its not just symantics. Clubs are independent of the league. Franchises are not. The franchise model is a closed model with teams paying millions to open up a franchise. The club model is more organic with clubs being founded and invested in.

            soccer in america can only become big through the club model. The club model would create a soccer culture with pro/rel and clubs in every city

            the franchise model has a very low ceiling. Not only that, because franchises are single entity (all tied to each each others finances)they are more likely to collapse.

          2. I understand the difference. I am trying to find out why you would worry about the business model and what people call it rather than enjoy the game on the field.

          3. Robert sounds like a really fun guy to watch a game with. The conversation about economics and the business model of the teams involved is probably riveting stuff!

          4. Oh Andy, tried to use a big word and it didn’t work out for you (sEmantics)? If only America had your precious clubs – it would’ve saved you from having to say anything at all. But by all means, keep up the ideas of how culture is created – through business models! I think that’s how jazz took off in New Orleans, right?

            I also encourage you to write to the NFL, NBA, and MLB immediately regarding the “low ceiling” of the franchise model. They’ll all collapse soon if someone doesn’t tell them to follow the European model!

        1. Whether u like it or not, MLS franchises are clubs just as the NFL and other, Bigger american sports leagues,in america bothwrds are synonomous. The championship game was on ABC acouple seasons ago, and now on Espn, which has done worse, games and the league isnt being marketed enough to a level where it favors mainstream attention, can’t blame mainstream media for that.

  11. Considering MLS has only been around since 96 I think its doing fine…please no more FSC horrible in every respect please Versusa pick up MLS. To all the haters support your league support your national team.

  12. I want ESPN to pick it up. Why? Because I can watch ESPN on tv, while Fox Soccer is unattainable on my cup-o-noodles college budget. Also, I’m not impressed with FSC’s production when I’m at home over breaks.

    And if Fox gets it again, they need to step up their game when it comes to production quality and really push FSC, FS+, and their HD variants to cable providers, because they sure as hell haven’t listened to me when I’ve asked them to put it on basic cable.

  13. I get it.

    2011 is still 10 days away and MLS was getting in a late attempt at winning the most absurd request of the year.

    Not only will Fox Soccer Channel not be paying that amount, its even money that the channel itself might be around for much longer.

  14. $20 Mil is either a negotiating point or an an attempt to over bid FSC so they decline the offer and then hopefully they(MLS) have a plan in place for another channel. Obviously the logical guess is that MLS will take the $7 Mil from FSC and that is more than enough.

  15. I love the people that are upset about this.

    One, why do you want the league to fail ?
    Seriously you need to ask yourself that question.
    When FSC is reportedly asking $7 million and MLS is asking $20 million, but you think it is worth $3-6 milion, you might be in wishful thinking of your MLS failing mode.

    Two, you seem to be on the wrong side of all the arguements.
    The quality is going up in the league. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Did you see the 20 MLS guys called up to USMNT. It is the whos-who of studs that have come out of college in the last couple of years. There are way more that are still in college.
    The money is going up. Sounders are just rolling in it, the way LA is spending they most be alright or headed down the EPL path, now TV contracts are going up. The Timbers and Whitecaps are going to be above and way above MLS average attendance/viewership.

    Three, shouldn’t you be WANTING the MLS/US Soccer to get this ?
    Hmm, I guess go back to question one for that answer.

  16. MLSnobs are holding the league back they think everything is great and dandy, 10 team playoffs sure why not…anything that makes the league more NFL they love.

    1. WSW,

      Can you pick up women with youre fake english accent? Just wondering how “Euro” you really are since apparently you are a true Eurosnob.

      BTW…I’d be proud to be a MLSnob!

  17. I love it. I am a MLSnob aren’t I ? Proud of it too.

    I might have to start posting news that ticks off the Euridiot:

    Whitecaps are reconsidering the 16,500 cap on the season tickets, because of the huge demand. They are already talking of expanding BC Place too. It was kind of crazy of them to think that 20k would hold their fans, I expect way more than that to be showing up on the temporary home at Empire.

  18. BTW – the Versus execs who pitched MLS in September found out that they won’t be with the company after the merger. That is why there has been no further communications.

    All the sports properties will report into Dick Ebersol, and he’ll be looking for packages that can be monetized both vertically and horizontally across the Comcast NBC assets. Due to “gun jumping” law, he cannot negotiate with MLS until after the merger goes through.

    It would be a great partner for MLS, but I don’t see Comcast-NBC playing second banana to ESPN/Univision. MLS may need to approach them in 2013 when the current ESPN and Univision extensions will be negotiated (those deals end in 2014).

    In a partnership with Comcast NBC, MLS could have access to NBC, NBC Sports (now known as Versus), Universal Sports, Telemundo, and the Comcast regional sports networks.

  19. All right since no one seems to do much homework on this before posting here are some fact ESPN currently pays 8.3 million for 25 games on ESPN and Univision and this contract was negotiated in 2007. Yes ratings dropped off this last year but there are about 12% higher than in 07 plus and with the significant rise in inflation over the last few years even a fair price would be about 10million per year. Plus this is a multiyear deal and the MLS is proposing this with future marquee rivalry matchups with Toronto-Vancouver-Montreal, Seattle-Portland-Vancouver, and the classics LA-NY-DC (assuming the second two can consistently put together winning teams). Plus you people are pissing me off with this talk of 10 team playoffs. It is EIGHT teams and this year they all had winning records and with the intro of 18 teams and the word from the Commissioner that he has no intention of expanding the number of teams they will all have winning records guaranteed. Plus with the expanding of the league it will mean a smaller percentage of teams make the playoffs and that means the regular season will mean more. And one other point of expansion means that now there are new cities tuning into see MLS games because that game might effect their team.

    BTW I am a recent convert to MLS I moved to Seattle this year having always loved soccer but detested the product that was on the field until 06 when I swore off MLS. But when I went to my first Sounders game I was enthralled at the level of play that was on display. Now it isn’t EPL level but it is definitely better than it was just a few years ago and I can’t get enough of it. I think with some more marketing and people who love soccer will start paying more attention to it. And it doesn’t matter that is is Franchise or Club. The Bundesliga has just as many international stars as the EPL and La Liga but is much more competitive and has a faster growing Television audience than the other two, and their is parity in their league so you don’t have a separation of haves and have nots. Which I think makes each game more fun to watch and not just the premier matchups.

    1. @Joe

      “And it doesn’t matter that is is Franchise or Club”

      yes it does ! If you look at the great rivalries all around the world, you will realize that what makes them special is the relationships stablished between soccer clubs and diferent political, philosophical, religious, social and other implications. It is its simbolism what creates great passion and make our game unique and special.

      A franchise system can not duplicate that because it is design primarily with a business mentality. They want to make as much money as posible with their generic product , so a franchise will never be “designed” to atract either the catholics or the protestants(Celtics-Rangers); the extreme right or the comunists (Lazio-Livorno)etc; they want you to support your “local” generic franchise wheather you are republican, democrat, catholic, Buddist,jewish, black, extraterrestial, mutant, anti or pro anything, even if you live in a diferent state(NY Red Bulls ?! )

      A franchise system CAN NOT duplicate all the symbolism and implications that a real soccer league does. therefore , it will never generate the same following and passion.

      Franchise or clubs. It does make a difference!

      1. Roger said:
        “yes it does ! If you look at the great rivalries all around the world, you will realize that what makes them special is the relationships stablished between soccer clubs and diferent political, philosophical, religious, social and other implications.”

        Not Whitecaps-Sounders. They had a great rivalry as clubs in NASL/A-League/USL and now have a great rivalry starting in MLS.

        Before you start ripping on my soccer (US/Canadian Soccer)…realize they have played each other 111 times.

      2. So what you’re saying is that you’d love bitter ethnic/religious rivalries to become a part of American sports culture? More violence…sounds like a blast!

        1. There are hundreds of derbies played almost every weekend all around the world, very pasionate ones. Violence is not the norm , it is actually the exception.
          Soccer let us express what is inside us. That is what make the game magic. A system that takes away the capacity of soccer to reflect us and live in general, makes our league a meaningless exercise.
          That is why the fans that really know what our game is all about, will never ever be inspired by a “single entity” franchise league.

  20. The arguments here are getting absurd. The main reason MLS
    struggles is because most fans of soccer in America see it as an
    inferior product to the European leagues, mainly the Premiership
    and La Liga. It’s that simple. I encounter many soccer fans
    throughout a year here in Indiana, and I constantly discover that
    they love English football, but don’t even watch MLS because “it’s
    not as good”. Many watched MLS once years ago, didn’t like it, and
    gave up. It has NOTHING to do with the way the league is set up.
    Sure, the most diehard fans out there would love single table,
    promotion/relegation, etc. But the casual American fan who likes
    soccer doesn’t really give a shit. They are not familiar with those
    concepts, and it doesn’t bother them. I’ve yet to ever hear “I’d
    watch MLS if there was relegation.” I’ve also never heard anybody
    say “I’d watch MLS if they were clubs.” It just doesn’t matter to
    the average American soccer fan. There are many sports out there to
    distract, and when they watch soccer, it tends to be the World Cup
    or the bigger leagues. The average soccer fan wants to feel they
    are watching the best players and teams compete. It’s that simple.
    MLS is not the best. It will probably not get there in our
    lifetimes, if ever. The goal has to be put a product on the pitch
    that will be of interest to soccer fans AND attract casual sports
    fans. As much as I’d love relegation in MLS, that will not attract
    a single casual sports fan, and I don’t see it really appealing so
    much to soccer fans over the current product. Basically, most
    American soccer fans are NOT watching the EPL because of
    relegation. They probably flip the channel if one of the big four
    isn’t playing. A game of Wigan Athletic v. Blackburn Rovers will
    draw far fewer viewers on ESPN2 then a Manchester United v. Wigan
    game. Casual fans wish to see the best play, and probably could
    care less about promotion/relegation.

    1. You pro MLS people will do any kind of intellectual acrobacy not to ever face reality.

      It is not a coincidense that the best leagues in the world ALL use the same system. The reason why they have a quality product have a lot to do with the competitiveness that their “football formula” (open market and pro/rel) generates.
      There is a penalty for finishing in the last positions, and there is a reward for sucess. There is NO BETTER WAY to incentivate the pursuit of excellence! At the same time, the system allows them to incorporate a big number of teams, to open the doors to EVERY city , instead just a selected private club.

      Not to recognize the link between their superior quality and the formula they use, is another example of the manipulation we are constantly submited to.

  21. I love how everytime I bring up a contradiction to peoples statements they just go ignored.

    One, noone has yet said why A-League/USL, a free market first division ( in the 90s ) failed. Noone, like it didn’t happen because it wasn’t supposed to in their sky is green world.

    Two, Sounders-Whitecaps. Huge rivalry with many, many fans watching throughout the years. A lot less in the A-League/USL…see my first ignored comment.

    Will this rivalry continue in the new MLS ? I say, yes and bigger than ever.
    Roger ? Yes or No ?

  22. first point.
    The A league/USL didn’t have a salary cap, but they were still a closed league (franchise system) . Without real por/rel, there was no punishment for underachieving, so there was not incentive to raise the field quality. They were/still are a very regional league. They were also completly un-link to the soccer world. Their champions DID NOT qualify for anything, so there was no room for dreaming bigger, no incentive for pursuing excellence.
    Only free market does not do the trick. It is also about promotion and relegation and the competitiveness it brings. Furthermore, the posibility it would give us to open the doors for many many cities instead of just the private club we have now. It is also about been linked to the world soccer community , something that neither USL or the new NASL have now, they are isolated leagues, no oulet leagues.
    So, using the A-League/USL example to justify MLS and its single entity concept is more of the same manipulation you guys seem to never stop bringing on.

    second point.
    Will the pacific northwest rivalries continue? …….yes
    Will it be bigger than ever? …..I think it will, I think they are going to bring something very special this seasson.
    The regional aspect of rivalries, is the only one that a franchise system can generate. A soccer system can generate regional plus many others (social , political, religious etc, etc.)
    Your approuch is a good example of how they keep trying to manipulate us. “….what we have now is better than what we use to have. We are growing , so you should be happy….”.
    They right approuch, the real questions that we should ask ourselfs should be: – where should we be now if we were exploting our true potential?
    – how big and exiting our league could be if we had the right system?

    Now that I answered your questions , could you reciprocate?

    -Dont you think there is a link between the best leagues on the world and the system they ALL practice?

  23. Thanks for answering the questions.

    You are completely misguided in the first answer however. IT was NOT a franchise system at all. Oki joined the Sounders in that league for that exact reason. Like you he didn’t like the MLS structure.
    It was not a regional league at all, that is preposterous. Sounders played in the finals ( maybe semis, it has been a few years since I was at the game ) against Rochester ? As in NY.

    What the ALeague/USL was, was a league that failed to inspire any fans, or any money to it. This, inspite of a multi-billionare owning the most successful team in the US currently, still remains true.

    NO, I don’t think there is a link between the best leagues in the world and the system most, not all, practice. I think there is a correlation. But there is also a correlation to the fact that they are all soccer leagues.

    EPL is one of the worst run leagues in the world.
    It has the most popular game in the world, with very few teams even making in revenue what the Sounders do inspite of the fact that it has been established for over a hundred years. Pathetic.

    Did you know how much money Liverpool makes in revenue ?
    WAY less than the lowest of American football teams. They have twice the number of games !?!?!
    It is pathetic. I don’t know, but I would assume they are close to the top. Some of those bottom teams must make close to nothing.

    I have been watching the EPL games on Sat AM, the only reason some of those stadiums have any fans at all is because the Man U fans travel to the away games. Pathetic.

    1. Charles, sometimes you say the wackiest things, I wonder where on earth you get your info.

      Liverpool’s most recent annual revenue, according to Deloittes, is 237 million Euros, which is about $317.6m USD. This is roughly the same as the New England Patriots, who are have the third highest annual revenue in the NFL ($318m USD), according to Forbes. So to say they make way less than the lowest NFL teams is clearly wrong.

      But I don’t see the significance such comparisons anyway – both teams are operating in such different environments that I think a like-for-like comparison is pointless. As you say, Liverpool plays at least twice as many games as an NFL team. But conversely, Liverpool is competing with a far greater number of teams for audience attention (both globally and locally). And there are so many other factors that I don’t think a comparison of an EPL team and an NFL team really makes sense.

      Also, your comment about “the only reason some of those stadiums have any fans at all is because the Man U fans travel to the away games” is also ludicrous. EPL teams typically only allocate 3,000 – 5,000 tickets to away fans. So unless you think there are teams in the EPL with attendances barely over 5k (and presumably less for matches against less glamorous teams), then clearly the stadium attendance is not as reliant on travelling Man Utd fans as you think.

      1. Well Dave C. I am old and maybe ( probably not ) as good as surfing the internet to find stuff. ( I don’t know why that is, I have been doing it a LOT longer than anyone ).

        I saw their revenues on a site being a LOT lower than that. at I do think it is significant as they have almost no competition for those dollars. When the Seahawks were ok and the Mariners stunk, the fans went to the Seahawks game. There isn’t that at all. Competition with other teams ?

        I have been watching the 4:30 games between SuperPower Team X and relegation Bait team Y ? I keep thinking it is a home game for SuperPower Team X. They may allocate 5k, there is no way that is even close to the number of fans there. Clearly isn’t the right word for not relying on SuperTeam X fans. Tickets can be resold or bought outright in the case of a non-sellout. Clearly IS the word for that happening.

        1. @Charles
          Charles I am still waiting for your answer. I am dying to know what kind of answer are you going to come up with!

          My question:
          -Dont you think there is a link between the best leagues on the world and the system they ALL practice?

          Your answer:
          “NO, I don’t think there is a link between the best leagues in the world and the system most, not all, practice.”

          Wich of the best soccer leagues in the world DOES NOT practice promotion and relegation Charles?

          This is a little example of what we are missing

          a minute and a half of a promotion/relegation dogfight atmosphere in get promotion from 3rd div to 2nd, not even to 1st.

          1. Well I mispoke while typing at work, nice catch.

            I meant, not all soccer leagues, not all the BEST soccer leagues.

            Nice job.

            Now answer my questions:

            YOU really think pro/rel was a possiblity in the 1970s ?
            And that is why NASL failed ?

          2. I respect you for admiting the mistake. However, I get the feeling that you are not very familiar with international soccer and you really thought that it was not all the best…..”uhhh there should be a couple of the best leagues that dont do it that way..!?” You probably made some research after and find out that ALL of them do! That is why it took you a while to answer, you usually post very frequently, it was unlikelly that you just forgot to get back to me; specially after coments like:

            “I love how everytime I bring up a contradiction to peoples statements they just go ignored.”

            answering your question.
            Of course pro/rel was a posibility in the 1970s if the people in charge had the right vision.
            As to say that it was the reason it failed is to simplify the issue. I think there were a few factor. If they had implemented pro/rel that would mean that their approuch would had been totally different; and with a different approuch ,Yes I think the league would had survived.
            What I think is manipulation is to use what I call “the old dirty trick” about how the old NASL failed to justify not to ever try the ONLY system abailable wich will give fans the right to enjoy live profesional soccer in ALL of our cities and not just a few.
            For the fans,that are the essential element of the game.If there is a way to fit them ALL(Miami,NY,San Antonio,Rochester,Charlston,Tampa..etc,etc,etc.), our “soccer lords” have a moral and ethical obligation to give it a try, EVEN if there where a posobility that such a system(pro/rel) would fail.
            What makes no sense is not to try to acomodate all cities, base on assumptions, when there is a way that can acomplish it!

          3. Nice speculation, completely wrong. I have a lot of other things to do than to research soccer in other countries.

            I didn’t respond right away because I am old enough to remember the 70s and I don’t read my email more than once a week.

            Just like here, where I am probably a few days behind your post.
            And what do I read ? You STILL think that pro/rel was possible in the 1970s.
            As someone that can remember the 70s, you have NO clue what you are talking about.

            The teams in the first division were drawing 5,000 fans.
            Seriously you have NO clue. NONE.

            Just a big scam by those that like MLS. Wow.

  24. @harles

    “NO, I don’t think there is a link between the best leagues in the world and the system most, not all, practice”

    Can you please tell me wich , out of the best leagues in the world does not practice promotion and relegation?

      1. Are you referring to soccer leagues?

        When I ask Charles I am talking about soccer leagues.
        If you mean sports leagues in north america, none of the “big four” practice promotion and relegation, of course. However, none of its top teams qualify to any continental champions league either. None of those sports have created something that could compare to the Soccer World Cup, right?
        My point is, american sports are goberned with a diferent philosophy that soccer is. If you watched the World Cup you should know! Soccer became the greatest sport on earth by practicing openess and inclussion, by having a global vision.
        Promotion and relegation is the principle that links the international soccer club pyramid together. It is not only confined to the national club system. Pro/rel links a third division to a second; a second division to a first; a first division to a Continental Championship; a Cont. Championship to the FIFA Clubs World Cup.
        It is only logical and fair, that if we want to be linked to the world soccer clubs pyramid, we practice the same philosophy internally.

        1. I am well aware of how the rest of the world does it and why you like it. My point is that sports leagues in the US have only been successful when not practicing pro/reg. Does that mean it will never work? no. but it also should not be ignored or pretend that it is a requirement for it to work in the US.

          1. Promotion and relegation have never been implemented on the US, on any league.
            I can say that soccer leagues on the US have only been unsuscessful only when they DID NOT practiced promotion and relegation? It would be also acurate if I say that!
            I do get your point Lysander, but with all respect I think it is a very simplistic one.

          2. I agree it is simplistic. That was my point. Saying that we have to have pro/reg because all successful soccer leagues have it is just as simplistic as saying we can not have it because no successful american sports league has it.

            Both are simplistic views and neither side really can say with any certainity that only one way or the other is the only way to go. I personally think that it would be great if we could do it and I would like it better. I also think it is unlikely to happen. The only thing I know for sure is either way might work and am sick of people pretending there is only one true way to do it.

  25. Who ever thinks u need promotion and relegation in major league soccer must be delusional. Also MLS doesn’t have the fanbase like the major pro leagues in the states , so ofcourse its not gonna get a lot of attention because it doing enough to be put out there

  26. @Lysander

    I have never said that we have to practice pro/rel just because everybody else is doing it. If you look back on this thread, I have touch just a few points that I think are very valid:
    * the capacity to reflect life of a real soccer league,
    * the competitivness of it and how it can incentivate the pursuit of excellence,
    *the posibility it will give of to include many cities and not just a few.

    There are many more, but I would end up writing an article and monopolizing this space. I may do it some day. To imitate you and make it simple, this is my view:

    * We have many many cities with soccer fans and no clubs to represent them.
    * There is a formula that could open the door for all of those cities and many more to be part of the club soccer world.
    * This formula is, by the way, the most popular by far in the soccer world. It has proven suscessfull for more than a century in countries of all cultures, on every continent, every political or economical system.

    Dont you think it kind of makes sense to give it a try?

  27. alright boys. i watch soccer because the bf loves it. and now i like it (though not as much) he’s a sounders fan (very excited that Portland has joined the MLS btw) I personally don’t care what type of league it is. to be fair, i’m not sure i know good soccer (football?) when I see it. I just know that there are good games and boring games. I know that I like the sounders because they are a home team. i know that Quest field is ALWAYS sold out during a game. I think that soccer is gaining in views and baseball (barf) is dropping. those of you who know all about soccer leagues, clubs, franchises, etc. are in the minority. you have probably been fans since you were born, probably played soccer since you were two and wouldn’t miss a game even if wasn’t aired in english. again, i say, you are in the minority. most of us fans have no clue about that stuff, and there’s no way i am watching a game if i can’t understand the announcers. so since you are in the minority, i am in the majority. (meaning i like to watch soccer but really know nothing about it) i think soccer is like a snowball rolling downhill. it’s starting to pick up fans….. we don’t know a lot, but we know we like to watch. (btw, never knew soccer was a contact sport. bet they would get a lot more fans if others knew that….) okay. with that said. I HATE FSC!!!!!!!!!!! how on earth can they say it’s in HD? wth? are they kidding????? It looks like I am watching tv with rabbit ears! talk about crappy reception! what? do they have some soccer mom film the game with her cell phone? and then, to make me choke on my water, the announcer says, “coming to you in Hi def!” LOL again. really, i wasn’t laughing (I was busy choking) do you think that maybe they could try broadcasting in something better? we would like to be able to actually read the players names on their backs. (at least the numbers are big enough, though very blurry) maybe soccer would get more viewers if people could see the game and not have their eyes hurt when they are done! In a perfect world, Versus would pick up MLS and my household would celebrate with a HUGE party. and that’s what i have to say about that. thanks!

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