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Promotion & Relegation: Good Business For MLS, Terrible Business For EPL

3334543099 8b0a50e08a Promotion & Relegation: Good Business For MLS, Terrible Business For EPL

The much beloved promotion/relegation system is apparently being threatened in England.  Recent news reports suggest that foreign Premiership owners (several Americans in the list) have asked for the elimination of the promotion/relegation system and an adoption of a franchise system more reminiscent of American sports leagues.  The decided reason behind this proposal is that club owners would have more financial security supporting their investment.  The risk of dropping into a lower league poses great financial risk to club revenues. TV rights alone ensure millions of pounds for Premier League teams; not to mention the money brought in by sponsors, endorsements, merchandise, and ticket sales (to name just a few) in the top flight.  Dropping to the Championship or lower can look like plummeting stock in the eyes of businessmen investors.  Why not put in measures to prevent this from happening?

The obvious answer to this question is simply put: The tradition and passion of English Football trumps any potential risk to the pockets of investors.  Eliminating the current system will seriously strip the game of the heart that it has.  The current system gives small seaside teams, donning tangerine kits, the dream of taking down one of the big London clubs; it gives fans of a once great European Cup contender that plunged to the third tier the hope of once again climbing to the top.  To lock teams into permanent leagues would be an atrocity that could kill the lower leagues and make for a boring and meaningless season for league bottom dwellers.  This is not to mention the nightmare of how to decide which teams get locked into the Premiership.  Would there just be a final season as is, and just go from there?  While that would make for one heck of a final relegation/promotion battle, what happens to the legacy of teams with rich Premiership pasts?  Would teams like Portsmouth, West Ham, Leeds, and Nottingham Forest be permanently banned from tier one football for a few bad seasons?  I cannot imagine what that crazy tatted-up Pompey fan would do if his hopes of Premiership glory were dashed.  The tradition runs too deep and the passion burns too hard to give it up.

So I realize that I am preaching to the choir, and that no true football fan would desire to see the promotion/relegation system abolished in any league.  But here is where I shift my gaze and find some will disagree with me.  These recent articles have sparked many American footy fans to once again consider the adoption of promotion/relegation into the US club soccer system.  While the idea of emulating the top leagues of the world with the glory and intrigue of such a system sounds enticing, I would argue that it is a horrible idea for American Soccer, for now at least.  Many MLS fans plead for the removal of the 2 conference system that has half the teams in the playoffs fighting for top honors.  These fans want a one table system where the bottom teams drop to the USL and the top USL teams come into the MLS.  “It would be just like Europe, it would only serve to improve the game in the States” is the cry.  For all of the stated reasons above about the system in England, I too would love to see the system in the US.  I would be utterly enthralled to see my beloved local team, Chattanooga FC, rise from the NPSL all the way to the MLS.  But to go back to talking business, this is not a viable financial option for our country… yet.

Simply put, the interest level in the sport and financial weakness of the lower leagues (NASL, USL and NPSL) could not sustain the existence of the relegated clubs.  If a team like DC United has one poor season (not too far off from this current season), it could spell the ruin for one of the most successful MLS clubs.  Say DC United gets relegated to NASL, the climate at the club would drastically shift.  Revenues would naturally drop (just as they do for English teams).  The first big money saving change would see the exodus of many of the higher earning players.  Short of a few die hard supporters, ticket sales would severely drop off, merchandise sales would plummet.   People just wouldn’t care as much.  Sponsorship and endorsement deals from the likes of Volkswagen could be replaced by FreeCreditReport.com.  The few DC fans interested in watching the game on television would most likely be out of luck.  The money making potential would drop off harshly and DC United would cease to be good business, and it would not be difficult to conceive the club fizzling out all-together.

It is this sort of potential fear that caused MLS to organize the way that it did.  Players sign contracts with the leagues, not the teams.  Teams are allowed only 2 or 3 “Designated Players” outside of the set salary caps.  This is all in place to ensure longevity for the sport in the United States; nobody wants a repeat of the old NASL.  It would have been incredible to have been one of 70,000 fans watching Pele, Beckenbauer, and the Cosmos on a regular basis in New York City; but it would have been equally disappointing to watch the whole thing crumble just a few years later.  In its short lifespan the MLS has already seen the failure of certain clubs i.e. Tampa Mutiny and Miami Fusion).  I am confident that MLS Commissioner Don Garber would love to see a promotion/relegation system in our country eventually, but he is a smart enough businessman to know that it is not a viable option at this time.

The verdict: English football would suffer from the abolishment of the promotion/relegation system while American Soccer would suffer from the institution of the same.  While a Premier League team would provide a more financially stable investment for owners if the system were to change, the tradition and passion existing within each team would make the transition stifling and disappointing.

On the other side of the pond, it is this type of tradition and passion that needs to be matched by MLS fans before the system would provide any viability for American Soccer.  Leeds United can drop 3 leagues and still exist as a club because it has been around since 1919 and fans live and die by the happenings at Elland Road no matter what league they play in.  The same cannot be said yet of teams like New England Revolution, which only dates back to 1996 (a founding member of the league no less) and has struggled to get more than 12,000 fans through the gates this season.  Relegate that team, and I assure you it will fail to keep the doors open.  I am not trying to be pessimistic towards Major League Soccer, but on the contrary I am calling for fans to be patient and optimistic about the future of a rising league.  We can get there as a league, just look at what has been happening in Seattle the past 3 seasons.  We just do not need to rush changes prematurely.  In the meantime let’s hope to be watching relegation battles in the Prem for many years to come.

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97 Responses to Promotion & Relegation: Good Business For MLS, Terrible Business For EPL

  1. Robert says:

    What the hell is going on with MLS Talk? New Playoff formats and
    now this?! I’m Excited!

  2. Charles says:

    Figures this site would have an article about Pro/Rel instead of
    the playoffs. What a pile. “I am confident that MLS Commissioner
    Don Garber would love to see a promotion/relegation system in our
    country eventually” WRONG. We can argue till we are blue in the
    face about this over talked about topic. We will all agree this is
    completely wrong. People that throw out England getting rid of
    Pro/Rel need to answer one question, who are the chosen 20. There
    is no answer.

    • Teddy says:

      You think allowing MLS to do whatever they want is the best course
      for US Soccer? Should our federation step in when the needs of a
      few owners trump the needs of the game? You’re right – the argument
      gets really stale when it revolves around whether MLS should
      implement pro/rel. It will never be in their interest to give up
      their special entitlements. It’s going to take an energized and
      independent US Soccer to sanction accordingly. Perhaps that’s why
      they’ve installed an unenergized MLS exec as part-time volunteer
      and subjugated US Soccer President.

      • Alex says:

        I agree with you 200- no, 500%. This is ussfs job, not mls. Ussf
        needs to start putting mls under their thumb. As for pro rel I’m a
        avid supporter of it. However we are not ready yet but not for the
        reasons mentioned, its because we let mls run like a independent
        federation dictating what they think is right for us.soccer instead
        really they are subliminaly dictating what is right for their
        needs. Ussf needs to step in and institute a multi phase plan to re
        structure the pyramid, establishing a protocol for pro rel. What I
        find distrubing is that I think people get the real reason for pro
        rel mixed up. It’s not just cuz Europe does it, or cuz it promotes
        entertaining soccer games (it does) but it stimulates soccer growth
        from the bottom up, not in the nineteen lucky cities that happens
        to house a franchise. Look at j league ever since they implement
        pro rel in the 90s that league is now a Asian power house league,
        probably the best league in Asia and their national squad is ranked
        higher than USA. Australia is on its way to pro rel. Ussf cannot be
        left behind. Teddy, you are completely correct, ussf needs to
        energize itself and act, not let mls call the shots for us soccer.
        Btw I I’m terrified of the mls 2, mls 3 mls 4 concept of pro rel
        for that reason that it basically erased the need for ussf.

        • CoconutMonkey says:

          The J League is pretty money, but keep in mind that the state of
          the game before the founding of the league was very different in
          Japan than in America. The semi pro (company teams and whatnot)
          situation was already quite robust even back in the day. A lot of
          teams just needed a financial shot in the arm in order to make the
          jump to go fully pro. Sagatosu FTW!

        • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

          Of course the core of the problem is the USSF. Its responsibility
          is to do what is good for soccer in the US(the nation as a
          whole),not just a league!……how is the USSF going to do its job
          if its president is the intellectual creator of single entity, a
          “system” wich makes division one status a private
          club!………….how tough is it to see that it is a clear case of
          conflicting interests?…………….Why is it that no “soccer
          journalist” want to touch this issue with a 10 mile pole?

        • Joe says:

          LOL. Australia is NOWHERE NEAR pro/rel. We can barely sustain one ten-team division. Two divisions is an absolute pipe-dream at the moment.

    • Michael says:

      MLS Pro/Rel is always a topic that draws clicks and comments. As
      they say in pro wrestling, “cheap heat.” And where the EPL is
      concerned, the real issue is this: these big-money players are
      scared crapless about FIFA Financial Fair Play. Forced to balance
      their books, the largest EPL teams will have to either actually be
      smart with player signings or risk falling down the table. They
      want to abolish pro/rel not because it’s somehow an unfair system,
      but because they could conceivably risk being relegated someday.
      Not that pro/rel is remotely workable here (MAYBE if we first break
      up MLS and force all clubs to operate independently, and then give
      it 50 years or so, during which time some rich guy will start a
      league that ignores the USSF completely)…

    • Earl Reed says:

      Come on Charles, will you stop? Read down the front page, we have plenty of articles about the playoffs and the lead-up to them. Our site has a diversity of opinions, and I think it’s great that we can at least approach the subject here.

      • Robert says:

        I agree with Earl. MLS talk has been doing a fine job with diverse
        article selection as of late. Keep up the good work guys.

  3. Teddy says:

    Not bad Ryan. This sets up the classic argument: Is MLS fragility a
    creature of our sports system, or soccer? With US World Cup
    broadcast rights now worth more than a $billion, and MLS rights
    worth about a $billion less than that, I think we vindicate the
    game. We lead the world in club failure rate. If we didn’t cling to
    a system suited for dominant leagues in domestic sports shielded
    from international competition, perhaps more than the Sounders,
    Timbers, Quakes and Whitecaps would be with us today, and they’d be
    there in more than name only. It’s time to vindicate the game from
    the failures of a system. With Australia embracing a move to a
    promotion and relegation system this week, North America is now
    totally isolated. Open pyramids of leagues and clubs don’t collapse
    like our leagues do. We have all the tools in front of us to change
    our attitude. The only reason MLS is limiting quality and
    investment in the game is to make the game fit into their business
    model. That keeps teams like the Revs too fragile for relegation. I
    don’t think US Soccer is in a position to permit anyone to limit
    investment in the game. Do you?

    • Tim says:

      What happened last time US Soccer didn’t limit investment, (see
      NASL) Also comparing the financial value of a global event which is
      held every four years which draws out strong nationalism and a
      domestic event held every year, the international event wins out. I
      don’t see people lining up for olympic sports

  4. Robert says:

    I like your argument but disagree with your conclusion. The beauty
    of Pro/Rel is that teams like NE Rev with abysmal attendance will
    not exist but rather be replaced by a club & ownership that
    takes the sport seriously. Why should successful cities and
    franchises subsidize the likes of the Revs? My friend, pro/rel is
    the essence of capitalism and with all investments there are
    inherent risk. If you are advocating diversifying unsystematic risk
    by negating the idea of pro/rel so franchises like Revs do not go
    belly up you simply transfer all risk to the entire league.

  5. Ivan says:

    Lack of promotion/relegation rewards and encourages mediocrity. If
    MLS is to be another NFL/MLB zombie league clone, I am out. I try,
    I watch the league, I have Direct Kick and all that, but I am tired
    of trying to like this league. Artificial turf stadiums, playing
    with the Jabulani abomination (try playing with this awful awful
    ball, it is really that bad; it bounces funny even when you watch
    it on TV), the most idiotic playoff format known to mankind, no
    promo/relegation, conferences. How, how how, to like this league?
    If the Revs have a bad season: have them go down, swet it out in
    NASL. If the Galaxy are bad: same thing! In what universe does a
    team buy a “promotion” after having a horrifyingly bad season in
    the lower division (hint: only in the Don Garber univesre of make
    believe, and, yes, we are talking of the attrocious Montreal Impact
    who are about to get rewarded for being the second to worst team in
    NASL). I am amazed that people are ok with the travesty that MLS
    has become. The league is sinking in mediocrity; not enough talent,
    too many teams. Don’t let the enthusiasm of Seattle and Protland
    fans fool you (credit to you guys, btw, awesome job). I understand
    the logistics of setting up promo/relegation, the single entity set
    up, I don’t live in La-la land. But at least start working w/ NASL,
    USL toward that path. Garber still wins the award for the stupidest
    justification for the existence of conferences (I remember him
    saying that conferences “promote local rivalries”). Poor
    Barca/Real, Milan/Inter, etc. If they only had conferences, you
    see… Again, the league has gone a long way and it has become a
    viable league with a solid core following. But with that leadership
    and structure, it has reached its capacity. Time for a football guy
    to take over and make the much needed changes to take the league to
    the next level.

    • Robert says:

      Garber has even admitted to not watching MLS/sports. That is like
      Steve Jobs (rest in peace) admitting he doesn’t use Apple products.
      Of course in no way I’m i comparing Garber to Jobs but I hope you
      get my analogy.

      • Prune says:

        @Robert Garber has never said he doesn’t watch MLS. That is total
        BS and you know it. Seriously guys have your little lovefest but
        coming out and lying like that makes your arguments laughable.

        • Robert says:

          http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2011/07/major_league_soccer_commission_1.html
          He admits he hates ties, doesn’t watch sports but is passionate
          about soccer. Passionate about soccer does not mean he is watching
          MLS. Nice to know that he used to work for NFL and wasn’t
          passionate about the sport. This is the guy you want running a
          league?

          • Alex says:

            Robert, I’d buy you a cold one right now. Speak the truth.

          • Prune says:

            @Robert Your statement was, “Garber has even admitted to not
            watching MLS…..”. He doesn’t say anything like that in the video.
            He doesn’t say he didn’t watch the NFL when he was worked for them.
            So you made the entire thing up. Make your pro/rel argument based
            on facts and you will maybe get more than the half-dozen Big Soccer
            and MLS Talk posters to agree with you. Or take the time to listen
            to your points. Inventing this kinda crap will cause people to roll
            their eyes. And yes he’s exactly the guy I want running MLS. He and
            the owners have done tremendous things especially in the last 5
            years.

          • Robert says:

            @prune, I have a sneaking suspicion that you either didn’t watch
            the video or you are Don Garber.

    • Alex says:

      Ivan I am on the EXACT same boat as you. Idiots like Charles think
      I’m a euro snob that don’t watch mls. I visit this site, mls
      rumors.net, mlssoccer.com everyday, I have direct kick, watch ccl
      and usoc. But I am fed up with this plastic mickey mouse league. I
      try so hard to like mls but its hard to take mls seriously when
      they claim to be pro us soccer pro soccer fans yet turn around and
      call us “markets”. I can go on but everything you said Ivan is
      exactly how I feel.

      • Ivan says:

        Alex: I usually go on Soccer by Ives every day and when I post a
        similar comment every once in a while, I get 10 responses like
        “Here’s aother troll”, “Here comes the Eurosnob”. Are people too
        bind to see that the emperor is naked??? I live in Tampa and I am
        personally insulted that a Sunday beer league team like the
        Montreal Impact is getting “promoted” to the MLS. I saw them come
        to Tampa and play the Rowdies twice this year. They were beyond
        awful both times.This is an absolute travesty. As I said, I follow
        and will follow MLS, just because I love the beautiful game. But it
        is currently being packaged as a single entity, Disney-like, “the
        boss knows best” product which is absolutely infuriating. again,
        credit to the don for getting the league where it is in terms of
        financial stability and long-term viability. But following the
        model of NFL, MLB, NBA will ultimately stagnate and even kill this
        league and football in the country. Something’s gotta give. The Don
        and MLS is successfully sucking the “corazon” and passion out of
        the beautiful game. Baby steps: move to a single table, get rid of
        the stupid stupid playoffs, or at least the format that is used
        right now. Make top 8 teams in a single table format compete, crown
        the regular season champion as MLS Champion and start the playoffs
        as a new competition, the MLS cup.

        • Charles says:

          You go on a real site and people call you a troll ?……Seriously
          dude, you can’t be that stupid to be shocked at that. Can you ?

      • Robert says:

        Alex, You should see my reputation rating on Big Soccer. HAHA

      • lysander says:

        Youare a market whether you like it or not. SO are fans in all
        other areas. Unless you have a league with no TV rights and no
        tickets to get in, you are a market. I do not understand what the
        problem is with recogonizing that fact.

    • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

      I think we need something like…..Occupy the USSF!

  6. Ryan Sandidge says:

    Teddy and Robert, I agree with both of you, MLS does need to
    ultimately leave it’s current model, as it is surely limiting and
    controlling. My argument is that for now it is our best option
    because it keeps the league stable. The idea of placing the Revs
    with a more exciting team is great in concept, but which USL team
    would come up? The only teams that comes to mind is the Battery or
    Islanders (iffy options at best). All US leagues need to grow
    before a moveable pyramid system makes sense.

    • Robert says:

      If USSF and MLS made an announcement that it would align leagues
      they would definitely have to have at least a 5 year plan. The
      bottom leagues would have to start promotion relegation first to
      get a clearer picture who is punching above their weight. New clubs
      can start up and aim for their “club card” to start at the bottom
      of the league pyramid. While all this is going on, MLS and its new
      independent clubs, will be developing squads and buying talent in
      order to survive the drop.

    • teddy says:

      Ryan – we can structure a transition that will draw so much
      investment to lower divisions, you won’t even recognize current
      teams by the time promotion starts. Stadium standards will be set
      that demand proper facilities for access to each division. New
      clubs will form in lower divisions for a run at the top. If
      transition was announced today, Cosmos would be playing somewhere
      next year. Ripping the caps of MLS – a prerequisite for pro/rel,
      will allow clubs like the Sounders to build a world class club to
      match their world class support. Done properly, the transition
      itself is a game changer, before the first team is even
      promoted….

  7. Ryan Sandidge says:

    Ivan, Good point about working towards a promotion/relegation
    system. Working more collectively with the other leagues make lots
    of since. While I do think Garber is making good decisions for now,
    I don’t feel he will be the guy to take us to the next level. I
    don’t think promotion/relegation is feasible now, but efforts to
    work toward it would nice to see.

  8. broom_wagon says:

    American Soccer takes baby steps, we do it to keep the sport
    overall viable and it certainly is viable these days with new
    soccer-dedicated stadiums being built and new clubs being
    established as we have seen in Portland, Vancouver and
    Philadelphia. The book “Soccer in a football world” describes the
    history of American soccer very well so I think the MLS overall is
    doing a good job in planning the long term stability of the league.
    We even saw the USL break up some over the past few years, so I
    understand the caution that the MLS uses. Thank you.

  9. Juan Ruiz says:

    Give MLS 10, 20, maybe 25 years and with sufficient expansion, we
    will have enough teams for 2 divisions and pro/rel. But I agree
    with author Ryan that it is not ready for it. I would love to see
    Pro/Rel here, but it would destroy some teams that go down because
    we don’t have enough of a soccer infrastructure to support it now.

    • Robert says:

      Than those teams shouldn’t exist in the first place. If teams can’t
      survive the drop what the hell are they doing in our first division
      league? Our MLS fans that fickle?

    • teddy says:

      What if the state of unreadyness in MLS is about MLS? There are
      more US professional clubs outside MLS than in. Of course, since
      MLS owners don’t want promotion and relegation, this begs the
      question of whether they want to be ready for it. No matter how you
      slice it, this is a US Soccer call. Leaving relegation up to MLS is
      like leaving it up to Wal-Mart.

  10. BamaMan says:

    I think a start would be introducing promotion/relegation and a
    proper league pyramid BELOW MLS. That could be done by USSF next
    year with minimal disruption to anyone other than the league heads
    who make all their money off of the ridiculous team fees.

  11. Chris Riordan says:

    The most sure fire way to get a discussion with a lot of comments
    on this site has been to have a promotion and relegation article
    … because there are so many different and passionate opinions on
    the subject. Whether it be people who agree, disagree, are
    indifferent or get fired up because they can’t believe the
    discussion is going on during playoff time. I see both sides of
    that last point. It infuriates some because they feel like that
    discussion should be tabled until the offseason, especially with
    the playoffs just about to start. However, some feel that it’s the
    best time to address the issue. Look, it’s a great discussion
    either way. I promise that Chris Webb (the heart and soul of the
    show) will discuss it on the pod … but we are gonna wait until
    after the playoffs. Especially because it will give us some
    material during the offseason. Get those playoff pool picks in
    people … I’m adding one more prize too … details soon.

    • Robert says:

      Chris, what does this tell you about the state of the league?
      People of all opinions come out of the woodwork to discuss pro/rel
      and could careless about playoffs that change format every single
      year. I bet if they put a talk show on pro/rel it would get higher
      ratings than MLS Cup.

  12. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    Ryan, thank you for bringing this very important issue for US club
    soccer. I respectfully disagre with much of your article. First, I
    would love to know where that info is coming from. Somebody had
    allready comented on this blogs that there were talking about
    getting rid of pro/rel in Argentina as well, after River was
    relegated; I have read many argentinian articles about River’s
    relegation, watch many utube videos and did not find any atack to
    pro/rel. River fans are very mad with Pasarella and other
    “directivos” but they acknowledge they deserved relegation. I bet
    you England get rid of their monarchy before they get rid of
    pro/rel. IMHO pro/rel being threatened in England is more smoke
    thrown on our faces, i guarante you it is a coment either taking
    out of context, greatly exagerated or something of that nature. Can
    you be more specific , I would love to read about it. The only real
    problem in US to implement pro/rel is single entity, the USSF and
    the cartel that have kidnapped the game from us. No only they
    decided without any consideration of the fans not to implement
    pro/rel; they imposed a system that is not compatible with it, and
    totally oposed to the history and values of the game, making it a
    very tough transicion if we ever decide to adopt such practice. To
    tell us all the time that it would not work here, even though it
    works in almost 100% of soccer leagues around the world, is an
    insult to our intelligence. Just because we are in favor of
    pro/rel, does not mean we have to be stupid about it. A good
    example from previous coments is to use the actual disparity
    between MLS and our other leagues in order to make the point that
    it will take years in order for us to be ready. NOT TRUE! The split
    between our 1st and 2nd div is something that we could “play with”
    acording to our specific conditions. A good example is the approuch
    that Japan took. Played their first pro season in 1993. They
    promoted either 1 or 2 clubs for 5 years(no relegation). Consadole
    Sapporo becomes the first club be to relegated in 1998. Now they
    are building their D2 and as soon as it has 22 clubs, there will be
    regular promotion and relegation d2/d3. They are building an
    structure, not just a league like we are! Compare Japan’s size to
    the US. Between their 3 divisions they count 56 clubs! We got no
    idea who will be #20! What is going to happen after that?…..”we
    will se.”…….. If you dont realize that the problem is our
    leadership you are just not looking.

    • Daniel Feuerstein says:

      To Roger (Pro/Rel) There was an article from Brian Lewis of the NY
      Post that wanted to merge the first and second divisions of
      Argentina by the AFA because they wanted to save River Plate from
      relegation. Here is that article from Yahoo Sports.
      http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/news?slug=ap-argentina-leaguerevamp&active_dimension=carousel_sow_top_headlines&ysp_frm_woah=1

      • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

        @Daniel Feuerstein. I Read the whole article. Can’t you see the
        manipulation that we are submitted over and over when it comes to
        pro/rel?!……..It comes from NY, not Argentina. It conteins a
        couple of short quotes about an attemp to save River from
        relegation. It does not implies at all that there is any threat or
        critisism to the promotion and relegation practice in Argentina.
        Even if they merge the 1st and 2nd divisions , there still be
        pro/rel since there are 5 levels plus the regional divisions on the
        argentinian soccer structure…………correct me if I’m wrong
        Daniel. Do this article implies in any way that the practice of
        promotion and relegation is in any crisis or threat on argentinian
        soccer?

  13. Roger (SJ Quakes) says:

    Even though I don’t live in the UK, I’ve got to say I’ve
    sympathized with those teams who have no aspirations of winning
    trophies, rather ambitions just to stay afloat. I’m talking about
    clubs that have no major finance to compete with the rich teams.
    That monopoly system just protracts the joy out of those fans of
    poor teams. I can understand their frustration. By this, I’m
    reiterated on why a single-table, rich-domain teams will never work
    in the MLS. The MLS, the USSF, and the American soccer fans I’m
    sure will be assured.

  14. Daniel Feuerstein says:

    To Ryan Sandidge: Very good article you wrote and while I do agree
    with what you are saying, I also believe a lack of stadiums below
    MLS is also a problem. And while we are at it, the NASL needs time
    to grow as well. Not just adding teams from Canada, but more cities
    in the US that wants a second or third division side. You can’t
    keep paying rent to a university for borrowing their NCAA College
    football stadium or playing on a high school field to say this is a
    professional team on a professional stadium. Even those athletic
    complexes are not owned by the pro sides below MLS. I have always
    said I want Pro/Rel to come, but we need to take a hard look into
    what truly needs to be done. For those who scream “Do It Now” we
    can’t or else the death clock will go very fast and its all over.

    • Andy says:

      I think it could be implemented in 5- 8 years if USSF said pro/rel
      would be implemented between Div 1, 2 and 3 once certain benchmarks
      were met it would at least create certainty and allow for
      investment in lower divisions. so lets say those benchmarks for
      pro/rel to be implemented between MLS and D2 would be that at least
      3/4 of D2 must have Soccer Specific Stadiums that they either own
      or lease from the city. Well two things could happen. NASL or USL
      PRO, whichever wins the D2 fight would start adding potential
      eligible clubs. Or MLS could see the writing on the wall and the
      inevitability of pro/rel and start their own D2. That way relegated
      teams from MLS would still be in a league under the MLS brand. Yes,
      they would be playing in a D2 but they wouldn’t have their identity
      of being an MLS club stripped from them. Yes, ticket sales would be
      lower but not as low as if they were a NASL or USL club. MLS could
      even call the D2 MLS, and create MLS Premier. so you would have MLS
      Premier MLS NASL USL I don’t see why this can’t work. Look at
      Japan, they set 100 pro clubs in their pyramid as a goal. With the
      size of the U.S we could have a pyramid with 200 pro clubs

  15. tlas says:

    Here’s the thing we must get our heads around: 1) Convince more
    people to care about soccer 2) Organize the way to institute
    pro/rel for US soccer You can’t do 2) before doing 1) If there were
    more regions like the Pacific Northwest where there’s a pent-up
    demand for pro soccer then the rest would take care of itself. In
    those other countries, soccer is a RELIGION. Here, it’s just a
    sport. And a lot of people don’t think it’s a sport at all. You can
    have all the teams you want but that doesn’t mean that people would
    come out to watch you play. In the meantime, fans of foreign clubs
    are working to increase their membership left and right. It would
    be just as easy to simply forget about domestic competition and
    focus on leagues that are thousands of miles away, with histories
    that you have no part of. This is my greatest fear. Every time some
    foreign club play against MLS teams, their fans greatly outnumber
    the local team. Frankly, it sucks! I hate it but it’s the truth!
    The beauty of pro/rel is that it breaks up the sports cartel for
    good. However, we have many people buy into this phony populist
    idea that sports leagues should be organized to make it fair for
    all teams. Things aren’t and will never be fair to everyone. The
    best way to deal with unfairness is pro/rel coupled with stricter
    accounting rules for teams participating in sanctioned
    competitions.

    • Dan says:

      right on. i think USL-1, etc needs to be creating teams in the hot
      spots like the Pac NW. Why doesn’t Seattle have another lower
      division major team, Bellevue can easily be the biggest rival!?

      • Robert says:

        Tlas, I agree with the last half of your statement but disagree on
        conviencing more people to like soccer. This country is a soccer
        loving country. Just look at TV ratings for ESPN, world cup ticket
        sales and look at the fee the rights fetched for World Cup 2018,
        2022. Why is Champions League being broadcast-ed on one of
        America’s largest networks? MLS is the problem and not soccer. MLS’
        inability to run a proper league is falsely correlated to soccer
        not being popular in USA. That’s like Motorala saying cell phones
        aren’t popular because we can’t sell enough Razors but meanwhile
        people are waiting in line to buy iPhone 4s hand over fist. It’s
        the product and not the market.

  16. Dan says:

    I agree 100%. I think the US needs pro/rel but not now. Right now
    the USSF needs to be working on making the lower leagues more
    stable and pumping money into them. Perhaps they can start doing
    pro/releg without MLS involved. Then slowly bring in MLS. I do
    however think we need a single table now in MLS and to just reward
    the top points as the champion. MLS Cup can be a seperate cup
    contest. what is so bad abuot that? this playoff system is bs and
    it turns off alot of would be us soccer fans to mls

  17. S04th says:

    I think USSF needs to start looking into a way to help lower
    division teams build proper, if small, soccer-specific stadiums.
    Working with local municipalities, leagues and schools of course.
    I’d love to see CFC in a proper stadium. Or, rather, a proper
    pitch. Finley is a nice stadium and all, but the field is just too
    small. Perhaps at Dupont Park or Redoubt.

  18. JMad4 says:

    What exactly, is so special about Pro/Rel? Other than, that the
    Premier League does it? I can’t see a team in America getting
    relegated and surviving. Their attendance, revenue, and interest
    will all die, as soon as they get relegated. I can’t see a MLS team
    getting relegated, then getting promoted again.

    • andy9000 says:

      Not just the EPL does it. EVERY LEAGUE IN THE WORLD besides MLS and
      A-League have pro/rel. Listen to Alex Ferguson you said recently
      America needs pro/rel to grow the game here.

      • Tim says:

        Every SOCCER league in the world does it. I’ve discussed this with
        sports executives of another sport. The big issue is keeping fans
        and sponsors interested once the team goes down. While the well
        educated soccer fan understands it, the sports fan does not. It is
        the sports fan, not the soccer fan who puts teams in the black.

        • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

          @Tim. Next time you talk with one of those executives tell them to
          get in touch with the Rochester, Charleston, Minesota, Tampa fans
          and others. Their teams have not even got the chance of being up,
          yet their fans still there. The problem that some of those
          executives usually have, is that they have a very tough time
          thinking outside the box they have lived all their lives. In order
          for promotion and relegation to work not all teams have to have a
          Rio Tinto, there are stages af many different sizes. The big , rich
          , and powerfull clubs would go to the top of the summit, while the
          medium and small size clubs would be placed by their results
          (MERYTHOCRACY) at the level that they belong to………promotion
          and relegation is anyways not going to be up to them, it is going
          to be up to the fans………….Our actual leadership will never
          implement pro/rel voluntarily not because they do not understand
          it, but because they DO NOT WANT TO! They have too many links to
          other interests that will be affected if Association football ever
          accomplish its true potential in america……………………..
          US is an sleeping soccer giant. Promotion and relegation is just an
          alarm clock. ( THEY KNOW IT ! )

    • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

      Teams like the Rochester Rhinos, the Charleston Battery, the
      Montreal Impact, the Sounders, Timbers and others have survived
      worse than relegation. They have survived been on cub soccer limbo
      for years, totally un-linked to the international club soccer
      structure. So if an MLS relegated club attendance, revenue, and
      interest die as a result of relegation……..then teams like the
      Rhinos and others deserve a chance to be be on our D1 more than the
      relegated MLS franchise do! Don’t you agree?!

      • Robert says:

        Great point Roger. There are teams currently in D-2 scratching by
        and I’m sure those clubs would balloon with interest if they were
        in a promotion battle.

        • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

          Thanks Robert! I agree also with teddy’s logo..UP TO
          US!…………we can not count with our current leadership and
          wait for the necesary changes to happen……the necesary changes
          will have to happen IN SPITE of our current leadership!…fans like
          us need to organize first, and plan specific actions for US Club
          soccer to move forward……….I think that is the only way we
          could un-NFL the MLS!. …….to expect US club soccer to pursuit
          its true potential with a leadership that has WAY TOO MANY links
          with the american sports elite, would be very
          naive!……………the cartel would not get out of their actual
          power position voluntarily!…………it is UP TO US!

          • Andy says:

            Roger, do you have any idea what % of soccer fans in the US are in
            favor of a more euro type structure with pro/rel? I’ve never really
            seen any data on it other than unscientific internet polls. And the
            only anectdotal evidence i have is of all my peers who are soccer
            fans, none are fans of MLS, and all of them basically say its
            because of single entity and Americanization of the sport.

          • Robert says:

            Andy, It’s not just a Euro Structure its a Global Structure. If you
            need proof, TV ratings are always a good place to start where
            soccer fans prefer to spend their time.

          • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

            @Andy. Take a look at this pool done here a while
            ago………………………..http://www.majorleaguesoccertalk.com/you-be-the-commissioner-what-would-you-change-10911

  19. JMad4 says:

    Playoffs aren’t BS. they’re fine. However, they need to be
    formatted correctly for the Sport and the size of the league. and
    that is where I think MLS is messing up. Their formatting is all
    wrong, too many teams make the playoffs, the league is not big
    enough for the amount of teams in the playoffs now. The MLS Cup
    should be 6 teams. Maybe, MAYBE 8.

  20. Anonymous says:

    We’re not ready, and no amount of screaming from Teddy (I had hoped
    I would never have to see his BS outside of twitter) will change
    that.

  21. Jason says:

    Awesome article I’m all for the relegation system over franchise.
    Well written. Here is a video about my favorite Portuguese player:
    http://documentaryshare.com/sports/cristiano-ronaldo-tested-to-the-limit-23102011

  22. andy9000 says:

    MLS needs pro/rel without it the league is very boring i no longer
    watch it. And none of my soccer friends do either. Everyone loves
    pro/rel except for the very vocal bigsoccer minority. it’s such a
    shame that MLS is so poorly thought out and structured.

    • Robert says:

      Big Soccer is the worst soccer site around. It’s the same 5 anti-
      pro/rel individuals who blast comments left and right. That’s why I
      only come here to MLS Talk. This site you can actually have
      discussions with writers and other posters. KEEP up the good work
      fellas!

      • Tim says:

        OH NOEZ THE OPPRESSORS ARE CRITICIZING MAIZ FREEZ SPEECHEZ
        Actually, you came here because it is the one place the pro/rel
        people are in the majority and there lacks a strong armed
        moderation

    • Jason says:

      Everyone loves pro/rel except the owners who paid $40M plus to get
      into the league and might find themselves in the NASL. And fanboys
      love it because it’s not their money. They’re only concerned with
      wanting MLS to “look” like Europe. But until 2nd division
      organizations have better quality, don’t look for it to even be a
      consideration. And the “5 anti-pro/rel individuals” are the voices
      of reason, Robert. Something you don’t care about.

      • Robert says:

        It seems you care more about Billionaire Soccer Speculator’s
        wallets rather than the development of the game. It’s not just
        Europe who uses pro/rel but our neighbors to the south. People like
        you are slowly losing the argument.

      • Andy says:

        jason, you bring up the biggest obstacle for pro/rel which is the
        franchise system. The franchise system works for the NFL . It is a
        horrible system for soccer. There is a reason soccer is the most
        popular sport in the world. You have clubs in practically every
        city in Europe and South America. Imagine if you had the franchise
        system in Europe and South America. Well, for one, you wouldn’t
        have lower leagues for the simple fact there would be no incentive
        for them because of the lack of pro/rel. You may have some lower
        division teams but without pro/rel they would have very little
        value and the fan support would just be de-moralized because of the
        simple fact of promotion being impossible. So, you wouldn’t have
        the interest in those cities for the sport like you do now. And you
        certainly wouldn’t have interest in the EPL from non-EPL cities
        like you do now. So the argument has to be made that pro/rel is in
        the business interest of MLS franchises. And if we go by the Europe
        model, it clearly is in the business interest for teams like
        Manchester United, Newcastle, etc that there is pro/rel because not
        only do EPL fans turn in to watch their matches but fans from every
        city in the UK do as well. They have a soccer culture that exists
        because of pro/rel. That same argument could be made for MLS. With
        the single-entity franchise model you have the potential of 18
        cities (for the sake of argument MLS caps at 20 teams adding the
        cosmos) where you will have a television presence. In these 18
        cities you could expect to have some kind of MLS fan base. In the
        rest of the country the chances of getting a fan base isn’t very
        good. For one,you’re not MLB with it’s history of being the
        national pastime and deeply ingrained identity with minor league
        clubs throughout the country.You’re not the NFL which has surpassed
        MLB as Americas new pastime. And you’re not the NBA with its flash
        and star power. But with a promotion/relegation system where you
        have 4 tiers with 20 teams in each division you now have the
        potential to have a top tier division with a television presence in
        four times as many cities. Its pretty simple. If i’m a fan of 3rd
        division San Francisco FC in a pro/rel system you better believe
        I’m going to be following the top league. On the other hand, if i’m
        of fan of San Francisco FC and there is no pro/rel the chances of
        me watching the top league aren’t very good and I may even be so
        demoralized that i stop following my local club. So the economic
        argument could be made. I wouldn’t say because franchise owners
        paid 40 mill for a franchise that investment would be lost once
        pro/rel was instituted. I would say the opposite. I would say that
        40 mill bought them a head start to create their clubs history and
        storyline and develop a fan base, all of which will help prevent
        relegation. But more than that I would say that pro/rel would also
        increase the value of their clubs.

        • Robert says:

          Andy, that is a very good argument for the $40 Million investment.
          Franchise system has to go in USA because it only benefits the
          owners while fans suffer and our National Team suffers.

  23. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    Here is a link to a video I posted on you-tube about Promotion and
    Relegation on the US(Usual Arguments
    #1)…………http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0XW_Np8PgE…………………first
    one I do so quality is not great.

  24. WSW says:

    So why does A-league have a plan for pro/rel and they don’t even
    have a second division? Vision, we lack vision at the top.

  25. theakinet says:

    100+ cities can support at least 1 MLS team. Many can support 2+.
    http://wagesofwins.net/2011/10/31/could-your-city-give-a-sports-team-a-good-home/
    @theakinet

    • Tim says:

      Those numbers are only base on personal income, there are many
      other factors to take into account

      • Andy says:

        there are other factors. But the data in that study shows the
        potential for a pro/rel pyramid in this country. I think it really
        does come down to, “if you build it they will come”.

  26. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    Promotion and relegation is not a final goal on itself…………
    It as just an essential mean in order to accomplish something
    bigger; to be in line with the universal philosophy of INCLUSION
    and MERITHOCRACY the the global game practices in all of its
    tournaments. Wheather it is the World Cup, Continental Club
    Championships, Continental Nations Cups or National Clubs
    Competitions, there are those two principles being
    followed!……………Which National Team or Club is eligible to
    get to the summit? ALL, that is INCLUSION……… What criteria
    determines who gets to the summit? Results, performance…that is
    MERITHOCRACY…….so, by not practicing promotion and relegation,
    we are totally out of touch with the fundamental principles of the
    global game!

  27. cardiff city fc says:

    MLS is going in the right direction, just take it slow and keep
    building. you dont need relegation or promotion just follow the NFL
    way and your sorted. What you do need is a FA CUP style knockout
    tournament involving teams outside the mls then the fun will being.

    • Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

      If MLS is going in the right direction by totally ignoring
      INCLUSION and MERITHOCRACY at the national club level, shouldn’t we
      stop sending our clubs to the CONCACAF Champions
      League?………..Why should we benefit at the international club
      level from principles that we have totally refused to practice
      internally for many years?

  28. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    If our soccer leaders feel so strongly against the principles that
    guide the international game (INCLUSION AND
    MERITHOCRACY)…………………..why are we still sending our
    USMNT to play the World Cup qualifiers?

  29. Roger(Pro/Rel) says:

    If our leaders feel so strongly against INCLUSION and MERITHOCRACY,
    core principles of the international game and the philosophy that
    guides EVERY FIFA competition,…………………….Why are we
    still afiliated to
    FIFA?…………………………………………Why dont they
    just create an alternative organization since they are in such
    oposition to FIFA fundamental principles?

  30. chris says:

    Pro-Rel will never work in North America for soccer or for any
    sport. THink about it from other sports leagues perspectives. For
    example. NFL- what if Seattle Seahawks were relegated to USL? NHL-
    what if New York Islanders were relegated to AHL? NBA- what if the
    Clippers were relegated to the CBA (actually CBA itself has
    folded). None of these franchises would survive relegation. In
    America, we only support the top tier. At the professional level,
    anything less than the best doesn’t cut it in our sports culture.
    Word.

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  33. TD says:

    Promotion and relegation are essential to the success of the game
    in the US. I am in a fairly common position as a “soccer person” in
    the US. I love soccer and live in a major metropolitan area where
    soccer is popular and becoming more so everyday. I have devoted
    most of my life to the game in one way or another. I could even
    join with other locals and start a real club. I would love to do
    that and so would a lot of people I know…if there were promotion
    and relegation. Instead we toil in our separate fragmented soccer
    worlds (that barely meet the real needs) and then watch foreign
    soccer on TV. I would love to have a local club to support, but one
    does not exist, at least not in the true form of a soccer
    club..where success is about what you do on the pitch. Instead I
    work in a dysfunctional soccer system here identify with an EPL
    team, or a Liga team, which makes me a little sick, because I am
    proud of my where I live. I really believe that if we had a real
    soccer club (with youth developmental teams feeding an adult team
    that sold tickets to matches) we would eventually become world
    class. The athletic talent here is just too good for anything less.
    We really need promotion and relegation so clubs can form and
    people can have something local to support and identify with and
    develop. New clubs would form and become the best around if there
    was a promotion and relegation system. People would come out of the
    woodwork to support something local that they could identity with
    and take pride in…Local clubs (real clubs, not the kiddie clubs
    we currently have) developing players, are the only way the US
    National team is going to reach its potential. And its the only way
    soccer will reach its true potential here. Imagine all the local
    soccer fanatics who’s mission would be to find and develop the next
    Pele/Messi so that he could play on the local team. This would be
    going on nationwide if there was a way or just the hope to make it
    to the top.

  34. Daniel N says:

    Someone here needs to start a movement in getting the word out
    about the promotion and relegation system who has expert knowledge
    on the subject. Social media is a start like facebook, twitter,
    etc.

  35. TD says:

    http://soccerreform.us/ Ted Westervelt put up this website. Not
    sure if it still has momentum or what… I would gladly be part of
    a viable movement.

  36. rick sewall says:

    Some kind of plan for pro rel should be announced by mls as soon as
    realistically possible. That way they will at least show they mean
    business.

  37. Mark says:

    In my Opinion Promotion/Relegation is a good thing towards clubs
    and Lower clubs get the opportunity to play in the and that’s why
    the English Premiership is much better than the MLS

  38. Mike says:

    I agree with you in that the way the league is currently structured
    a pro/rel system would cause the collapse of many of the more
    inconsistent teams in the league. That said, what MLS has failed to
    realize (partly because they micromanage everything) is that
    successful European clubs don’t necessarily have to be in the
    largest television market. A team from Sacramento or Charleston
    could be the next biggest thing to happen to US soccer if given an
    opportunity. Newcastle United has a tremendous international fan
    base and has a history of being one of the upper echelon teams in
    England. Newcastle is 1/4 the size of Fresno, CA and is not the
    only top tier team in it’s metro area. The Seattle metro area is an
    example in America of a region that could easily support another
    franchise if it was placed properly, managed well and had ambitious
    investors. Instead, MLS is still butthurt that they have no
    presence in Florida and now Orlando is the new target after two
    failed attempts in Tampa and Miami respectively. Soccer is an
    international sport and modern day media make it even more the
    case. If you put together a solid team anywhere in the world,
    people will follow it. The US has more than enough money to put
    together some great soccer teams. Soccer isn’t the NFL, there are
    so many places great players can go all over the world and it is
    well known that the best Americans have no desire to stay here. And
    none will until elite, relevant, in their prime players (and more
    than 1) sign contracts here. Instead of trying to play the TV
    market game, why doesn’t the league put together an economic
    analysis of where in the country there is a strong interest in
    soccer, willing investors and the potential for growth. I guarantee
    Orlando won’t be too appealing given those criteria. You have a
    former NFL guy running MLS and despite his business savvy, he’s
    wedded to the model he knows. It just doesn’t work here. Garber
    always reminds us that the sport is in it’s infancy here and it
    needs to grow more-too many other sports options out there to
    compete with. Well guess what? There are too many other soccer
    teams world wide that are competing for players. In it’s current
    format, America has no chance at keeping it’s best homegrown
    products, much less attracting high class foreign players.

  39. Jim says:

    I could just see MLS swirling down the drain if relegation brought teams up who play in a 2000 seat high school like stadium. Yeah, that would really put the “pro” in soccer in this country. This sport is no where near the point where we can introduce pro/rel. No, no way.

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