SBD/March 6, 2013/Franchises

Soccer Franchise Notes: NASL N.Y. Cosmos Find MLS' Structure A "Potential Hinderance"

The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Graham Parker writes about MLS’ efforts to add a second N.Y. team under the header, “Soccer’s Battle For New York.” For the NASL N.Y. Cosmos, the “collective structure of MLS is a potential hindrance.” The “possible sublimation of Cosmos broadcasting, image and clothing rights to MLS -- as might be demanded by the league's collective structure -- make it easy to see the attraction of the laissez-faire model of the new NASL.” Cosmos COO Erik Stover said, "We're focused on building a proper soccer club and being competitive on all levels. For us, we feel that the leadership that's in the NASL, and certainly the expansion opportunities that we have, find us with a group of like-minded people." NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson said, “In the NASL the onus is on the local owner to build his club, and the strength of the league will be determined by what those owners do. Our entry fees are fairly low; it's not a big deal for us. Our revenue stream doesn't depend on franchise fees." Parker notes conversations between MLS and NASL on potential technical partnerships “were brief.” Peterson said, "We're not interested in becoming a reserve league -- or a minor league is what it should be called. We're interested in building franchises up in our cities and becoming the relevant professional soccer teams in our cities. ... We're trying to accomplish a lot of things and it doesn't include us developing players” for MLS (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/6).

DEEP FREEZE: REUTERS’ Tom Pilcher reported EPL club Chelsea "will freeze ticket prices in all competitions next season for the sixth time in eight campaigns.” The freeze "covers season tickets, individual matches and entry to the hospitality lounges." Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay said, "Economic conditions remain tough for many people, and the club would like to thank our supporters for the consistently very good attendances we have had throughout this season" (REUTERS, 3/4). The AP reported the freeze comes "amid fan discontent at Stamford Bridge” (AP, 3/4).

SUFFICIENT CUSHION: The PA's Carl Markham reported EPL club Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre is “confident the robustness of the club’s commercial operation will help them overcome any shortfall from a lack of European football,” such as the UEFA Champions League or Europa League. Ayre said, “It's good to see that even in a year where we have a downturn in fortunes by not playing European football, we can bolster our revenues by performing in other areas.” The club’s financial figures “do not include” the record US$37.7M-a-season six-year sponsorship deal with kit manufacturer Warrior, which “came into effect last summer and could net the club a similar amount through associated merchandising.” Ayre said, "We've had record sales of their products throughout this year. We've also seen new sponsors come on board, notably Chevrolet and Garuda Airlines” (PA, 3/5).

HAMMER TIME: The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson reported EPL club West Ham accounts show that co-Owners David Gold and David Sullivan have “sunk a total" of $52.8M into the club since June '11. The extent to which the two “gambled on returning to the Premier League at the first attempt was revealed.” Gold said that he was “confident that the saga of the club's move to the Olympic Stadium will be concluded by the middle of this month.” The account figures, which “cover the year that West Ham spent in the Championship before winning promotion back to the Premier League through the play-offs, show that the club made a loss” of $38.5M (excluding one-off costs) in the year ending May 31, 2012. The impact of relegation “meant a sharp fall in turnover” by $51.9M to $69.7M, “mainly as a result of a reduction” of $40M in centrally distributed TV and sponsorship money from the EPL (GUARDIAN, 3/5).
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