It is worth noting that Silva owns Miami FC, an ambitious second division club currently playing in the NASL, a league without any formal affiliation to MLS. Silva last year commissioned a study by Deloitte regarding the potential benefits of promotion and relegation within the US system.
Miami FC has spent liberally assembling a squad full of journeymen who can win the second division NASL with ease but without spending the same sort of resources on long-term player development, an MLS priority. Miami FC’s disproportionate spending on players versus other aspects of the organization with winning a title in mind is the sort of thing MLS has rejected in its approach.
Silva’s proposal is intriguing. But concerning is what would happens to the large number of independent clubs at the D4 level or below in this country if the pyramid was effectively sealed off from them. Nonetheless, for those who would be part of the proposed league structure it would provide a boon in terms revenue, sponsorship and relevance.
While Silva’s proposal probably would need be fleshed out some more, it represents an important starting point for discussing how MLS can improve its television profile and create more context and relevance for fans and potential sponsors. The quick rejection of the offer by MLS is a sign that the league continues to be inflexible in its approach. And while for now they have a cue of potential clubs who want to join the closed league structure at the cost of a $150 million, eventually MLS will reach a point where expansion is no longer possible.
It is entirely within the realm of possibility MLS expands to 28 teams and then returns to the table with MP & Silva to discuss some aspect of this proposal. MLS might not want promotion and relegation, but its TV ratings show no sign of significant improvement and eventually a new broadcast deal will have to be negotiated. After expansion, MLS may be in a stronger and more flexible position to have discussions about restructuring for the future while Silva might have exhausted other options. Or perhaps the offer will be off the table for good because Silva would have pursued other options.
NASL did not return a request for comment.
Later this week on WorldSoccerTalk.com, we’ll discuss how Silva’s money and clout could help to build an open system that is attractive for broadcasters outside MLS using current lower leagues. Plus, we’ll discuss the topic in greater length and the ramifications of the news on the latest World Soccer Talk Podcast.