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MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER HIT WITH ANOTHER MAJOR PROBLEM
Published October 6, 1994
Major League Soccer (MLS) "received another setback Wednesday. Actually, it was more of a slap in the face." The American Professional Soccer League (APSL) "unanimously rejected an overture from MLS officials that the two leagues join forces." The "sticking point" for APSL owners is MLS's intention to operate as a so-called "single-entity" league, with the league itself owning all the teams and the player contracts. APSL Commissioner Richard Groff, who narrowly lost the U.S. Soccer Federation presidency to MLS head Alan Rothenberg, said APSL owners are "vehemently against such a concept": "It was totally unanimous. ... [APSL owners] prefer to own their own teams, to own the players, to develop the teams in their marketplace and to be responsible for 100% of the income and the expenses." Therefore, the MLS and APSL will go head-to-head next spring, competing for both players and fans, even though the USSF had said there could be only one first-division league in the country. Groff had hoped there might be a "possible middle road": "We could see a compromise, within the MLS, there could be a division of single-entity teams and another division of owner- operated teams" (Grahame Jones, L.A. TIMES, 10/6). WHERE THE TEAMS ARE: The APSL currently operates as a 7- team league with franchises in L.A., Vancouver, Seattle, Montreal, Toronto, Ft. Lauderdale and Denver. They hope to add two or three more markets in '95. MLS, which has a TV contract with ESPN and many contracts with equipment manufacturers will be a 12-team league. Seven franchises have been awarded: L.A., Boston, Columbus, OH, New York, New Jersey, San Jose and Washington. The other five will come from among the following bidders: Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Sacramento, Seattle, Tampa and Tulsa (L.A. TIMES, 10/6).