SBD/January 17, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Garber Says MLS Is Losing Between $75M-100M Per Year

MLS clubs are expected to get about $3M more per year under a new TV deal
MLS Commissioner Don Garber on Thursday said the league "is losing" $75M-100M a year, according to Eric Beato of the NEW ENGLAND SOCCER JOURNAL. Speaking between the first two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft, Garber said, "One of the things that is interesting with (the league) is that I don’t get asked as much about our economic viability and the stability of the league. It’s all accepted that this league is going to be here to stay" (NESOCCERJOURNAL.com, 1/16). Meanwhile, Garber said Toronto FC committing nearly $100M recently to acquire players, including F Jermain Defoe and MF Michael Bradley, is a "historic move," but added he is not sure it "translates across every other team in the league." He said of the club, "They needed to be big and bold and show their fans and show the media and their sponsors that they are doubly committed and really interested in being one of the dominant professional soccer teams in the region. We're excited for it. ... I think it'll be a great moment for our fans and certainly help our business up in Canada." Bradley is the latest member of the U.S. men's national team to rejoin MLS, and Garber said this is a "seminal moment and period of time" for the league due to the number of USMNT members that are "players in our league or players who played in our league." Garber: "It's a powerful statement that we're trying to make that says, 'We want Major League Soccer to be the league of choice for fans, we want it to be the league of choice for administrators and coaches. But we also want it to be the league of choice for those guys who grow up in the game here" (SI.com, 1/16).

TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMICS: With the announcement imminent of ESPN and Fox landing MLS TV rights, the N.Y. TIMES' Jack Bell wrote there is "likely to be a trickle-down effect from the richer deal." Each MLS club will get about $3M more than in the prior deal with NBC and ESPN. The league’s contract with the MLSPU expires at the end of '14, and players "are likely to see an opening to increase the salary budget (which was $2.9 million for each team last year) while also negotiating to increase the minimum salary." The growth in rights fees also will "enable the league and its clubs to continue to up the ante in bidding for players from abroad, and for Americans who went to Europe but now want to come home, as the national team stars Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey have done in the past year" (NYTIMES.com, 1/15).
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