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Volume 25 No. 26

Franchises

It will likely remain unclear until Tuesday when FC Cincinnati would officially begin to play in MLS
Photo: fc cincinnati

MLS is scheduled to announce that FC Cincinnati will join the league as an expansion club at a press conference in the city on Tuesday. The announcement will feature MLS Commissioner Don Garber, FC Cincinnati Owner & CEO Carl Lindner and Mayor of Cincinnati John Cranley. The league will also announce during the event when the club will enter the league. While it is currently playing at Nippert Stadium as it moves toward building its own soccer-specific stadium, FC Cincinnati has pushed to join MLS as soon as ’19 (Ian Thomas, Staff Writer). In Cincinnati, Patrick Brennan notes the team joining MLS in '19 would allow it "exclusive advantages in terms of building the club from a personnel standpoint." FC Cincinnati is "expected to use" Nippert Stadium in MLS play "while the process to begin work on its soccer-specific [stadium] continues." No timeline for stadium construction "has been released or publicly discussed" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/24). 

CROWN JEWEL IN THE QUEEN CITY: In Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty writes bringing MLS to the "midsized, modest, conservative corner was, in some very important respects, a grassroots movement." Daugherty: "Our rich diversity of competing interests mixed well with MLS' arrogant insistence that we build a soccer-specific stadium, in a location to the league's liking." From the day FC Cincinnati entered the USL, the "goal of its ownership was membership in the MLS." The group "wanted the good business MLS would provide." It wanted, too, for Cincinnati to "surf the rising wave of pro soccer" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/24). 

Orioles officials have "long been tight-lipped about the ownership chain of command," and the lack of a clear hierarchy below Chair & CEO Peter Angelos has "contributed to some confusion within the organization," according to a front-page piece by Encina & Schmuck of the BALTIMORE SUN. The 15-34 Orioles are in the "middle of an awful start," Angelos is "battling health problems and it’s fair to wonder who’s running the show." The long answer is a "bit complicated, but the short one" is that while Angelos remains the boss, his two sons have taken on "increasing ownership responsibilities over the past decade and now are involved in just about every aspect of the organization." Sources said that there are a "lot of decisions to be made between now and the end of the next offseason," and it is "unclear to a lot of people outside the management inner circle, and even inside it ... who exactly will be making them." Sources said that in recent months, Orioles Exec VP John Angelos has "taken more control of the business aspects of the team" with Louis Angelos "overseeing the baseball operations." Orioles VP/Baseball Operations Brady Anderson "views the relationship between John and Louis as a partnership, with both having fairly equal input in the baseball team’s operation." John and Louis both were "heavily involved in moving the club’s spring training home" to Sarasota from Ft. Lauderdale in '10. In the coming years, they will "likely have to work together on a new lease at Camden Yards," since the original one is set to end after the '21 season -- although the team has the "option to extend the lease for five more years" (BALTIMORE SUN, 5/23).

WHO CALLS THE SHOTS? MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal said of the Orioles and factors effecting a potential trade of 3B Manny Machado, "We know it is in an unsettled place. We do not know who, exactly, has the authority, the power, who, exactly, would be making this trade, so there are a lot of things to get through here before he actually moves" ("The Rundown," MLBN, 5/22).

49ers Enterprises, the investment entity affiliated with the NFL team, has acquired a minority stake in second-tier English soccer team Leeds United. The partnership will look to strengthen the commercial, operational and sporting capabilities of the soccer club, which is majority owned by global sports and media investment company Aser Founder and Chair Andrea Radrizzani. 49ers Enterprises President Paraag Marathe, who will now sit on the Leeds United BOD, said that he met Radrizzani roughly three years ago, and discussions around the investment ramped up after Radrizzani took full ownership of the club in May ’17. Marathe said that 49ers Enterprises will provide business expertise in several areas, including ticketing strategies, sponsorship and other commercial opportunities, stadium development, technology and player development and training. Marathe declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal, but said that the funds invested by 49ers Enterprises will go toward investment in Leeds United’s first-team squad. The deal is part of a wider business alliance between Leeds United parent company Aser and the investment entity. Marathe said 49ers Enterprises is now invested in roughly three dozen businesses in and around sports, and that they are “looking at ways to grow the 49ers brand in a lot of different ways.” Leeds United finished 13th in England's League Championship. The club has won three English league titles, but has not participated in the EPL since the ’03-’04 season. Radrizzani’s acquisition last year of a majority take in the club ended a tumultuous three-year period under former owner Massimo Cellino, who was banned by England’s soccer authorities three times and fired six managers during his tenure. Marathe said of Radrizzani’s desire to lead a turnaround following the controversy surrounding the club under Cellino, “He’s very passionate about getting Leeds back up to where they belong. … He’s got a fire about him that he wants to get this club back to where they belong and we want to help him get there.” Marathe did not rule out investing in other soccer clubs in the future, but said, “We only want to be a part of things that we can add value to.” He also explained that while the deal came together too late in ’18 for Leeds United to hold a friendly in S.F. this summer, the organizations will work on getting the English club to the U.S. in the years to come.