The time for Seamus O’Brien to talk to Cosmos fans is now

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Photo: Steve Hamlin

Talk to fans of the New York Cosmos about the state of the team after 3 and a half years and, more often than not, you will hear a response that resembles: “On the field it’s been awesome but off the field it’s not.”

Actually, saying “off the field it’s not” is actually being kind as the actual language has been a lot more vulgar.

Fans idolize Gio Savarese, his coaching staff, and the players and there are very few questions about how things are done on the field. Two NASL titles in three seasons and being in the postseason every year since the reboot will get you that kind of respect from the fans.

Instead, many of the fans’ questions about the Cosmos happen in regards to the corporate offices in the city, on Long Island and wherever the acting CEO is.

Fans are disheartened by the dwindling attendance at Cosmos games. They are unhappy with Hofstra as a venue and many are unsure where the club’s marketing and outreach has been lately and they want answers from the guys at the top.

They have heard many times from COO Erik Stover on the state of the club but there has not been an update from Seamus O’Brien in a very long time. Are the Cosmos in line with the ’10 Year Plan’ that O’Brien has mentioned over the past few years? How does the continued delay with the Belmont Stadium Project affect that plan? Why are there now limited funds on and off the field?

These are just some of the continued questions you read about on social media and fans are now looking for answers, but not the same answers they’ve been hearing. They want something of substance as many wonder what the future of the New York Cosmos hold.

Why? Lets look at some of the items that the fans view in a negative light.

 

Hofstra/Attendance

Since the reboot in 2013 the Cosmos attendance has gone in only one direction: down. So much so that this year, they shut down half of the stadium to concentrate fans on one side for TV. This is an old trick that has been implemented in a number of stadiums over the years.  The question is why are fans not coming to watch a team as competitive as the Cosmos? Is it the location? Is it the league they play in? Also, what is being done to address the attendance issues?

 

One World Sports

A newer complaint of fans, One World Sports has become a talking point among the Cosmos die hards. The issue here is that the Cosmos have an exclusivity deal with OWS, which has resulted in the Cosmos not being on beIN or CBS sports, two other television partners of the NASL. The fact of the matter is, beIN and CBS Sports are much more accessible around New York City and would give the Cosmos a chance at more of an impact around their home town, but the club is exclusively tied to OWS.

This exclusivity deal recently has fallen under more criticism as two recent Cosmos matches were shown on delay because One World Sports was showing cricket. The Cosmos match on Wednesday, July 13th started at 7:30 PM on the East Coast but did not air on One World Sports until almost midnight.

Then, the following Saturday, the Cosmos vs Rayo OKC match was again impacted because of cricket. OWS cut into the Cosmos game around the 70th minute. Not the kind of treatment the fans want their club to have on their ‘home network’.

 

Marketing

When the Cosmos were under the control of Paul Kemsley, they were accused of being a glorified clothing line. There was no doubt that Paul and, at the time, head of marketing Dan Cherry did a fantastic job in marketing the most historic brand of US soccer. In fact, the marketing was so good, the fans started to get annoyed by it.

Fast forward a few years and the marketing angle has taken a complete reversal to being almost nonexistent. The club focuses on ‘Online Marketing’ which, of course, is effective but to really catch the attention of a New Yorker, you need to be in their face on an everyday basis. This includes being on the subways, being in bars, being absolutely anywhere you can be. New Yorkers are often criticized for being ‘too fast paced’ and that means you can not sit back online and wait for the New Yorker to come to you. You have to get out there on the streets and get them.

Fans are very unhappy with the marketing of the team. However, its hard to market a team that plays in a stadium that is very difficult to get to.

 

Belmont

Finally, the fans are tired of Belmont. They are getting tired of hearing the delay in Belmont is the reason things are not going according to plan. There are not many fans out there that feel the Cosmos ever had a Plan B and feel they had all their ‘eggs in one basket’ which makes fans question the leadership.

The Belmont Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in 2009 and the Cosmos announced their interest in the location a few years later in 2011. At that time the Cosmos were told a decision would be in a few months, however, here we are, five years later and there is still NO decision on Belmont. Since then there has been nothing but excuses, delays, a change to the whole scope of the RFP and then more excuses. We are no closer to shovels in the ground now than we were five years ago and the Cosmos continue to wait for this decision to be able to move forward with their vision for the club.

At what point do the Cosmos walk away from Belmont? At what point do they think that perhaps a stadium not on a major subway line is not the ideal situation, no matter how much easier it will be to build at the Belmont site? Recently there has been a rumor that state officials have had a conversation with the New York Islanders about building in Belmont. Now, after the revision to the RFP in November, there is an open lot in state control that does not impact the RFP. It should be stated that the Islanders’ interest might not necessarily mean that the Cosmos plans are dead, however the fact that the state has time to sit down with the New York Islanders, even if it was only just a first time exploratory meeting, is insulting to the Cosmos who have been patiently waiting for an answer from the state for years.

The fans want to know what the temperature is on this and where those Plan B sites that the Cosmos have threatened about a number of times since 2011 are.

 

It is time for the leadership of this club to come out and answer some serious questions for the serious fans that follow this club week in and week out.

The fans are clamoring for Seamus O’Brien to give his ‘State of the Club’ and they want it now. One can not blame them as it might be overdue.

 

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Three years ago, supporters of the New York Cosmos congregated at Hofstra University for the first game of the reboot era.

Some of you know the origins of the people who now work on this site. Supporters from the Borough Boys and Cross Island Crew banded together to create a site and a podcast dedicated to following the Cosmos and the NASL, not only reporting news, but offering criticism and opinion on the club, both on the field and off.

And it’s time for some criticism and opinion.

Nearly five years, FIVE YEARS, have passed with us waiting on a stadium that has not come, for progress that we’ve not seen. Forget yes. We can’t even get a “No.”

And for this reason, we watch our club die slowly at a college in Long Island. I walk down the street and hear people tell me about their throwback Cosmos stories and then voice surprise that they’re playing again. I watch a team that is hard to get to physically then put themselves on a channel that many can’t watch, and then push that broadcast back so late on a Wednesday night that no one will watch it.

I watch a club that boasted Raul and Marcos Senna last year scramble to barely win games in their league and fall, yet again, in the Round of 16 in the Open Cup.

We’ve seen cost cutting on and off the field. Despite their struggles on the field, we’ve seen no attempt to rectify that with signings yet. And while I won’t detail out the nitty gritty, an experienced eye can see the cost-cutting happening in other parts of the team.

Are these part of the ten-year plan?

I don’t think so. But, I hope so. Because an alternative is pretty unsettling. Especially without knowing anything about that alternative.

It’s time for Seamus O’Brien to step forward and tell the fans of this club what is happening, what the club will do, and where it will go.

They owe them that much.

 

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Since the memorable reboot against the Strikers in 2013, I’ve sat with this team and supported it. I’ve worn many hats: a casual, a supporter, and now here with TICC. But I am a fan, first and foremost, and like Luis said: we’ve seen a lot.
There have been positives, undoubtedly. Derbies. Championships. Signings. This club has done many great things, and it’s been a pleasure to watch.
But, there are negatives. Many, that is. And the fans of this proud club deserve to have their concerns listened to and answered by their chairman.
We languish in front of a few thousand fans week in and week out at Shuart. If not at Shuart, we play our matches on a network that, despite the exclusivity it holds over us, has as small a viewership possibility as our home stadium. Our merchandising, while a step in the right direction, has yet to impress. Marketing has floundered. And Belmont… I won’t even let myself go there.
This is not the Premier League. Survival is not guaranteed. There are concerns, and they need to be voiced to the proper people in charge. Save the unveiling of Raul and a 2015 interview with the Guardian, we haven’t seen much of the owner of the Cosmos.
Now more than ever, it is time to change that.

 

18 thoughts on “The time for Seamus O’Brien to talk to Cosmos fans is now

  1. Couldn’t have been put any better boys.

    The ownership owes us answers.

    Give TICC an exclusive State of the Cosmos, Seamus. Then give us a townhall to respond.

    -Zach R

  2. Matt, you stole the words right out of my mouth. The time for a town hall meeting and a Statement from the Club is once a year. Seamus needs to set something up ASAP and perhaps if he is so out of the loop then E. Stover needs to inform him. Also, don’t leave yourselves out when reviewing the reboot era. TICC is an essential linchpin which keeps fans, both local and global, connected to the club and in the loop on a daily basis. Bravo, guys. Great work as usual.

  3. If it wasn’t for the marketing team under Paul Kemsley I would not have known the Cosmos existed. Bring back Dan Cherry if he is still available. I see that the Cosmos online shop is back but the current apparel is unimpressive to right down boring,

  4. “…and fall, yet again, in the Round of 16 in the Open Cup…”
    Can’t really fault them for that, they do take the Open Cup seriously

    With regards to other items, it would be nice to hear from the top about the state of the Cosmos.

    NY state sucks, what the hell are the waiting for yea or nay!

  5. I told NY Cosmos fans they were screwed in NASL. You need to be in MLS with your declared ambition. Cricket bumping them on OWS is pretty f-ing sad. Stadium probably isn’t coming. At least not in Belmont or in NYC. I told you all, but you didn’t listen. You thought I was trolling. I wasn’t. Now you know.

    My advice to you is to pressure your owners to buy the Red Bulls franchise and buy Red Bull Arena and come and compete in MLS with the big boys, where you belong. Red Bull is a shit brand, and the Cosmos are a great NY/American Soccer brand. Plus you guys used to play in Jersey anyways, so who cares? It’s consistent with your history.

    New York City FC should have a rival that isn’t a soft drink billboard. NYCFC v. the New York Cosmos on national television would move the NY Derby to the next level. Smarten up, guys. You’ll never return to your former glory and beyond in NASL, unfortunately. Gotta come to Major League Soccer and play by the Single-Entity rules if you want to have your former prestige, attract bigger players and increase your attendance. Make it happen.

  6. Rebel Fighter, I like your idea of getting DC back on board, if possible. Honest question-how do we as fans/supporters help the front office realize it is time for plan B? Or do we passively wait around while they seemingly waste even more time?

    • They know Astoria Nick. I don’t know how well they’re reacting to that knowledge, but they know the fans are not happy about the stadium status quo.

      • Thanks for getting back to me, MS. I am just trying to think of ways to help. Petition, letter from the 5pts to the club? (not a list of demands, but perhaps a list of concerns signed by supporters?) a formal request for a sit down/discussion/town hall meeting? Again, not a bitter diatribe, but instead an impassioned statement?

  7. If the Cosmos front office does not realize the plan b is not important shame on them. How with the poor attendance can the Cosmos make their case for the Belmont. As a season ticket holder I’ve expressed numerous times to my ticket rep other locations for the stadium. Primarily my concerns over Belmont are the affordability of the LIRR and ease of access for a family of four. Other season ticket holders should express other concerns to their ticket rep. As fans and supporters of the Cosmos we should have a townhall or sit down with the big wigs. Preferably in Manhattan. Just my two cents.

    • As a STH I have echoed the same concerns to my ticket rep. I am thinking that instead of X number of STH’s communicating over the phone or electronically to the club, that maybe a unified voice would be more impactful. I am not a community builder, or anything like that. Just trying to find the best way to make a meaningful impression without insulting anyone or causing an unnecessary rift.

  8. good questions brought up, but I just seriously don’t know where this is all headed if anywhere good for us fans at this time? Attendance is really poor and don’t know how new fans will be added, is this just going down a rathole at this point? I also worry about the league with bad financial rumors at Ft. Lauderdale and OKC, after the news of losing a couple teams to other leagues recently.

  9. As a season ticket holder as well should I also be complaining to my ticket rep? How do we get the wheels of change in motion? This front office owes us dedicated fans an answer to everyone of TICC’s points.

    • Yes – complain to everyone. Demand answers from the top. Threaten to not renew your tickets unless you get a direction of this club.

  10. Complaining and threats will only get us so far. I am certain that if we had a unified voice and a direct line of communication with a decision maker we could make our voice heard more than with random people complaining. I like your idea, but I think we can do much better. (I could be wrong, though.)

  11. Pingback: Cosmos supporters urging transparency from team ownership – Empire of Soccer

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