U.S. Soccer president Alan Rothenberg and Japanese advertising agency Dentsu, Inc., a long-time supporter of international soccer, head a group that has acquired the right to serve as investor-operator of Major League Soccer's San Jose Clash, Rothenberg and MLS commissioner Doug Logan announced at a press conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., during the league's All-Star weekend.
"This is an opportunity I've been looking at almost since the time we founded Major League Soccer," said Rothenberg, the founder of MLS.
Rothenberg and Dentsu, the world's largest ad agency in terms of gross income and billings, have owned non-operator units in MLS since its inception. They will exchange these units plus cash in return for San Jose's investor-operator rights. The transaction is valued at $25 million, a record price for an MLS team. The Miami Fusion investor-operator group paid $20 million in 1997 for the 1998 expansion team.
"Major League Soccer exists because of Alan Rothenberg, so obviously we are proud and pleased to welcome him as an investor-operator," Logan said. "Dentsu's assumption of a larger role expands the league's presence internationally."
The league had operated San Jose, Dallas and Tampa Bay since its inception in 1996. The Clash is the first of the three to be sold.
"Those of us who've been involved with the Clash since the start of MLS are thrilled to welcome Alan Rothenberg and excited about the prospect of working in his organization," Clash president Peter Bridgwater said. "The Clash was born as a league-operated team and grew up that way. As the club matures, I'm convinced we will flourish under the kind of direction Alan will provide."
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