26 February 2010

What league would they play?

There are two glaring questions by the naysayer whenever the New York Cosmos return comes up. Where are they going to play? and what league would they play in?

I focus my attentions on the second question as it is a very interesting topic. In the complex cluster-fuck that the USSF has created and called the US Soccer tree we know that the MLS is the top tier and this newly formed NASL/USL the second. It would make most sense that the Cosmos return be in a top flight league, with a top flight stadium in a top flight city, however sometimes things are not all that easy.

In order to put a team on the field that is deserving enough of the Cosmos crest, I imagine that Mr. Kemsley would want to have some star power. Granted, this might not be the star power the older brother Cosmos had back in the 70s and 80s but more than just one DP and a couple of college kids. The problem with the current MLS structure is it does not allow an owner the liberty to go out and spend 10 million on its roster. I guess the good part about still being years from any kind of Cosmos kick off is that there is time for MLS to continue to get all their teams in revenue controlled situations and raise the cap. They had better!

Bottom line is this, Major League Soccer is noticed globally as the top flight league in the United States and every year sends at least 4 sides to the Concacaf Champions League qualifying and group stages, so it would make perfect sense for any investor/owner to want to play in that league.

However, the NASL/USL might have a lot to offer an investor looking to build a super club type of team on our shores. First off, if it is anything like the structure of the old USL, it has no salary cap, which means you can bring in players. It also allows for a proper academy system to help not only find your own talent but keep it.

Now, imagine this, if for some reason the Cosmos come back, land a stadium deal somewhere in New York City and build a 25-30K stadium and sign 4-5 big name players to play for them in the NASL. I am talking some big names here! If you fill your roster with globally recognized players you are going to draw a crowd. Now you are looking at other investors saying, why would I pay a 40 million dollar expansion fee to be belt buckled by the MLS system when I can pay a near nothing expansion fee and use the other 30+ million on players which will draw crowds and create revenue. The fans love the soccer and at the end of the day, the soccer, the actual game on the pitch is much bigger and more powerful than any league or federation.

I might also add you can still win the US open cup and gain entry into the Concacaf Champions League.

This scenario is a very dangerous one for Major League Soccer because...well because it CAN happen!

Now, Commissioner Garber has done wonders for soccer in this country, no one can argue that, and lets hope he seals a new CBA and even gets Montreal into MLS soon, but then he needs to sit back and think. Since the league started we have fantasized about two NYC based teams and a true NYC derby. I am the head of the top flight soccer league in the country and there is a good possibility that the New York Cosmos might try to make a come back. Should I continue to play hardball? Should I continue to ask a 40 Million dollar expansion fee and then not allow my owners wiggle room to fill their rosters enough to compete in 2 or 3 competitions? If I do, there is the potential for this Cosmos team to go to NASL, get other ownership groups involved who don’t agree with the MLS structure, create a global super club and hurt the stature of Major League Soccer. Look, we understand that MLS is Division 1 football in this country, but what does that exactly mean without promotion and relegation?  What does it mean if you have a parallel league of 8 teams with bigger payrolls and bigger stars?  

For the record, this scenario can happen with any owner in any city, but this being a Cosmos site we use them in this example.

Yes, there is a potential for the next few years to be very interesting in New York City soccer history and if the Cosmos do make a comeback and find a concrete stadium plan then it will also be interesting for the decision makers of MLS.

So we can not truly say what league the Cosmos would play in at this time, and we do not favor one league over the other, but we do know that the decision can be quite the critical one.

Oh and for those still saying "Where will they play?" and still believe there is no place to build a stadium in NYC, those questions hopefully will be answered in time as well.

1 comments: until now.

Anonymous + February 27, 2010 3:19 PM (#) :

In MLS and in NYC, of course !!!!!