SBD/January 14, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Garber Says MLS Backing Off Talk To Shift To European Calendar

Garber hinted that MLS could alter schedule before FIFA awarded '22 World Cup to Qatar

MLS Commissioner Don Garber Thursday indicated that the league is "going to pocket its promise to look into shifting its season to the European fall-to-spring calendar," according to Brian Straus of FANHOUSE.com. Garber's statement in November that MLS might alter its summer schedule was a "promise made to curry favor with FIFA days before the governing body" voted to award the '22 World Cup to Qatar. Garber said, "We'll revisit the whole decision on moving our schedule. Right now I think the whole schedule thing is certainly up in the air. Right now FIFA is talking about a winter World Cup, so maybe the season we have is right." Meanwhile, MLS has yet to announce its new playoff format, something Garber hinted at while announcing an "expansion from eight to 10 clubs and the prospect of a 'play-in game' involving the lowest seeds in each conference." Garber Thursday said that an announcement is "coming soon, but that the stalled TV rights negotiation with Fox Soccer Channel was among the factors complicating the process." He added, "We believe that, although some of our fans don't agree with me, we believe that this (play-in) game is going to be exciting. ... We've got to be big enough to recognize that not every decision we're going to make immediately is going to be right. We have to have the courage to change it and make tough decisions if it means delays or going on hiatus, whether it's TV partners or whether it's competitive decisions we make" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/13). Garber on Thursday also indicated that MLS is "strongly considering a week-long round robin" between the Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers to "further intensify the Pacific Northwest rivalry" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/13).

GOING OLD SCHOOL? N.Y. Cosmos Dir of Soccer Terry Byrne Thursday night said ongoing discussions with MLS about becoming the league's 20th franchise "have been progressing very well." Byrne said that the "conversations continue to progress, but MLS has not made a deadline as to when they will make a decision." He added '13 is "definitely the earliest we can play in the league." Byrne also "squelched any rumors" of Galaxy MF David Beckham "having a role in a Cosmos MLS team -- at the moment." He said, "There has been no genuine conversation with David about the Cosmos" (BIGAPPLESOCCER.com, 1/13).

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