SBD/October 15, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLS Not Planning On Moving Toward European Schedule In '14

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A winter-centric MLS schedule might be problematic for cold-weather markets
MLS Exec VP/Communications Dan Courtemanche said that the league's '14 schedule "will look similar to this year's, contradicting a report that suggested major changes were planned," according to Jim Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. Peltz noted next year's schedule is "expected to be announced before this year's MLS Cup championship game Dec 7." Courtemanche acknowledged that the "question of making significant changes in the schedule was posed in a recent fan survey, part of the market research the MLS regularly conducts to gauge fans' interest and preferences" (LATIMES.com, 10/14). In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald wrote there are "many more reasons" why a change to a European-style schedule "won't happen than why it will." One key reason is a "winter-centric schedule would cause huge problems in the league's many cold-weather markets." But there are "two big forces that are pushing MLS" to such a schedule, and "they aren't necessarily bad forces" -- U.S. men's national soccer team coach Jurgen Klinsmann and FIFA. Still, it would be an "enormous gamble for the league to give up games in mid-summer, its most profitable time of year." Tannenwald: "I don't think it's a gamble worth taking" (PHILLY.com, 10/14). SI.com's Brian Straus pointed out potential weather problems, but also noted MLS would be "giving up dates in the summer, when most compete only with baseball and when families might be more likely to buy tickets." A winter break would "cut short the season's momentum and any budding storylines." While the MLS Cup Playoffs currently "might be overshadowed by the NFL and MLB in the fall," they would likely be "overshadowed by the NHL and NBA in the spring" (SI.com, 10/14).

SOME SUPPORT FOR A CHANGE: FS1’s Eric Wynalda said he would "applaud the idea of changing" the MLS schedule, as it would allow some players "to be included in the transfer market" and would "prevent our games of relevance from being up against the likes of NCAA football, the NFL and baseball when it matters." Wynalda: "No more games of relevance in bad weather with no one watching.” FS1’s Cobi Jones added, “In the past this would have been trouble. But now when we look at the MLS, it is a strong league now and people are paying attention to it. I think the fan base is there, so any type of switch that happens I think the MLS is good to go, they can handle it. Do it now, don’t worry about the World Cup. There is never really a good time for something this major” (“Fox Soccer Daily,” FS1, 10/14).

WELCOME WAGON
: ESPNFC.com's Jeff Carlisle cited a source as saying that Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is "looking to partner" with David Beckham "to bring an MLS expansion team to Miami." The source yesterday indicated that Ross' RSE Ventures is "looking to provide marketing services to the investment group being put together by Beckham, and possibly provide a temporary stadium solution for the proposed team." Beckham has been "negotiating with Bolivian businessman Marcelo Claure to come up with the necessary funds." The source said that if Beckham and his partners are "successful in landing the team, Ross will work in conjunction with the group, and that Ross wouldn't provide any of the start-up money needed by Beckham's consortium." The source added that Beckham and Claure's negotiations are "ongoing, but that Beckham was also talking to investors from as far afield as Qatar, Singapore, and Japan" (ESPNFC.com, 10/14).
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