[MLS SPOTLIGHT] MLS commissioner Don Garber wasn't quite as definitive as his No. 2, MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott, who said at the MLS All-Star Game it would never happen, but Garber, speaking at Thursday's Bloomberg Sports Business Summit, doesn't see promotion/relegation in U.S. pro soccer any time soon.
Garber and U.S. Soccer
president Sunil Gulati were speaking in New York in a discussion with Bloomberg soccer reporter Tariq Panja.
"Right now, our system is very different," Garber said. "It is a franchise model. We have investors that are sharing in revenue. We have salary caps that solve the issue that promotion and
relegation is trying to address, which is ultimately ensuring that everybody steps up to the plate and invests in their clubs. I certainly don't see promotion and relegation any time in the near
future. What happens 50 years from now, I won't be around to worry about.”
Gulati, a Columbia University economist, said the federation won't mandate a change in structure as it is
not in the business of "expropriating assets."
“Don's touched on it," he said. "When the system came into play in Europe and the rest of the world, that was the agreement coming in.
So if you're an owner and you buy into a system right now and you pay X amount of dollars to get in, and the rules of the game change the next day, essentially expropriating assets that were worth X
-- that's not something we're going to be doing.”
On other soccer topics ...
-- Garber said MLS would stick to the current single-entity structure: “The great
benefit of that is we have control over how we spend our money and try to marry it to our revenues, so we have a business that makes sense. Something, by the way, that UEFA is trying to do with
Financial Fair Play. Our structure has been working very well to get us to the point that we are today. We have 19 teams. When I came in 15 years ago, we had 12. We have a goal to have 24 teams by the
end of the decade.”
-- Gulati said the USA would like to host the World Cup again but reiterated that changes in the bidding process must be made: "In the next couple of weeks,
we'll have an indication of some comments about that process. Whatever comes out of that, I think you'll see some improvements that will have gone through the World Cup bidding process. The IOC went
through this [with the Olympics], FIFA's gone through this, I think there's still more to be done."
-- Gulati said there was no single thing MLS or U.S. Soccer could do to capitalize on
the popularity of the 2014 World Cup. And the same thing went for producing a world-class American star. He did say that player would come along but added the USA needed to produce several to win the
-- Garber said MLS was now spending more money on academies than it did on player salaries five years ago.