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The new football: Man C enters MLS with Yankees. Any more?

By Tony Attwood

As you may have read Manchester City and the baseball team New York Yankees (who previously had a liaison with Manchester U) have agreed to buy a franchise into Major League Soccer, as the new club, to be known as New York City Football Club will be franchise number 20 in 2015.

The basic idea is that this will help develop the Ethiad brand into America – I have noted before the shock I got in Melbourne coming across a stadium that was branded exactly the same as the Commonwealth Games stadium that Man C took over.  Shouldn’t have been surprised of course, because that’s the name of the branding game.  But still…

Now what is interesting is that Manchester C will be the majority owner of the venture.   They don’t have a stadium yet, but are looking to build one which will presumably look like the one in Melbourne and the one in Manchester.
The other teams in the area are first off New York Red Bulls who are owned by…. guess…. go on…. yep,   Coca Cola.  No, I kid you.  Red Bull of course.  They play in New Jersey.  And then there is New York Cosmos who are going into the second division.

So what, if anything does this mean?   Certainly it means very regular friendlies between Manchester C and New York FC.    And quite possibly even a competition like the Emirates Cup.  And then out of that maybe a bigger competition, and a bigger competition until the state that pays for these clubs has its own league as well as its own clubs.

That is certainly a possibility; after all why play in a league controlled by other people when you could have a league that is controlled by your own people.  Doing it that way would get rid of dealing with silly people like Uefa and Fifa.  Indeed the new organisation could be organising its own world cup in the near future.

But there’s something else.  In these circumstances the leagues themselves can be bought and sold.   For example the North American Football League was sold in 2010 to NAFL Enterprises LLC.   Such things are more that possible.

But back to football of the soccer variety (and incidentally it is not right to think that “soccer” is an Americanisation of football, it came from Association Football which separated the real game from Rugby Football).  Anyway, back to America.,,,

The top pro league in North America is MLS (Major League Soccer), which is around 17 years old and from which there is no relegation, as I understand it, only collapse, resignation and expulsion.

Now you may think it is a long way from north London to Crystal Palace, but that’s nothing compared with United States where not content with being a rather large country, they also have three Canadian teams in their league to play along with the 16 USA team.

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The average attendance is sort of Championship level – around 18,000 and they claim it is the 7th highest attendance for football in the world.

The question is, however, will it all last beyond the world cup in the sun?  And will Arsenal, with their American owner, buy a franchise?  Who knows.

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18 comments to The new football: Man C enters MLS with Yankees. Any more?

  • jan

    Kroenke already owns an MLS team, the Colorado Rapids

  • Tangent

    Usually your work is better researched than this. Kroenke already owns an MLS team, the Colorado Rapids.

  • Javier

    American (Essex County, NJ) Gooner here. MLS has no promotion/relegation. True. And no such thing should visit these shores any time soon. We do have contraction and gnashing of teeth, though. The league (not the individual clubs) owns the contracts with the players, and the clubs are under a strict salary cap. This helps rein in cost overruns, something very attractive to owners, given what happened to the old NASL. All this talk about money means that the league is a prudent, sound investment in a sport that is growing as a spectator and commercial activity.

    Admission to the league now comes at a hefty price. The City/Yankees group paid MLS $100M, and now they have to shell out about $300M more to build a stadium. In New York City proper. Easier things have been dreamed up and done, like the building of the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression, or building Ashburton Grove. These people will get it done. And football will be better of because of it.

    I live about ten minutes about from Red Bull Arena, and the name notwithstanding, it a great venue to witness Thierry Henry do his thing week in and week out. Red Bull paid for the whole thing. I’m not complaining.

    Oh, and Stan Kroenke does own the Colorado Rapids.

  • Matt Phillips

    Arsenal’s American owner has a club – the Colorado Rapids. Apart from the debacle that is Chivas USA, the clubs are stable, and the league is not going anywhere.

  • A. Stewart

    Yes MLS will last. It’s different from European football. Foreign investment into it is a good thing, (What City is doing is smart for City) Arsenal could make tons of money and could likely unearth loads of talent in N. America if they looked more seriously towards it as an investment and developmental market (beyond what is done now, and it’s affiliation with Colorado etc.).

  • A. Stewart

    And no, you cannot buy the league (MLS), not in theory or reality, regardless of previous examples cited. It’s comparing apples with adjustable rate mortgages.

  • It's Grim Oop North

    I have no clue how this will pan out for City, but fervently hope that Tony’s potential vision of a breakaway league, or whatever, is not even a tiny spark in the brain of a keen marketing lackey.
    Football needs expansion and competition to retain our interest and enthusiasm, to isolate one’s club and allies goes against the aims of the Sheikh, i.e. to promote his country to the world as a welcoming and civilised place to visit and do business with, so I can only see City and NYCFC embracing the global football community, not split it.
    Interesting times 🙂

  • Herb

    Kroenke already owns the Colorado Rapids in the MLS, although joint ventures between them and Arsenal have been few thus far.

  • Breezy

    Doesn’t Kroenke already own the Rapids? Maybe that relationship should be developed and exploited better then it currently is.

  • Rufusstan

    The MLS is here to stay as far as I can see, for a number of reasons.

    Firstly the profile of the game has changed in the US. I only ever visit New York, but 10-12 years ago, you’d walk around the parks and see kids playing with bats and gloves, or throwing an oddly shaped rugby ball around. Now its the classic jumpers for goalposts. Its a generation or two off of Europe, but it has passed that critical point.

    They are trying to build things organically this time which is why it is so slow. A lot of the owners don’t want to make the mistakes of the past, so they mostly have dedicated stadia, the salary caps and so on. The clubs are building the infrastructure in their region to develop players.

    Their league structure is different, but in 4-5 years they have gone from teams needing to play each other 3 times, to as many games as the PL with just a home and away with everyone. How it evolves with more teams will be interesting. The dislike of promotion/relegation over there is going to have to be balanced with how to set the games up when there are 30+ teams.

    The ownership of the league isn’t much of an issue as far as I can tell. The league controls the clubs, but the clubs own the league between them. I’m not sure how you could sell the league, and if you did, not without the clubs say-so.

    As to the breakaways, the discussion bounced around on here about clubs here breaking away from UEFA and FIFA and I think this wouldn’t happen for all the same reasons.

    Overall I think the MLS has reached the point where it is just going to keep growing. Football has failed over there before because it was an artificial implant, which isn’t the case this time. Their attendances are solid– you can argue exactly where on the list they go; certainly bottom of the top 10. The more impressive bit about that is that the Championship is top 10 as well.

    Their biggest issue right now is overseas imports– seducing a lot of the Hispanic kids away from watching the Mexican league, and everyone else from watching us.

    As to Arsenal, I don’t see us buying a franchise, but since our owner already has one……

  • scott47a

    Ummm … last line confuses me since Arsenal’s owner has been the owner of the Colorado Rapids in MLS since before he took control of Arsenal.

    To that end, Arsenal already has a team in MLS. By the way, the team in Colorado was set to be renamed “Arsenal Colorado” way back when their new stadium opened, but word on the street is that Nike objected very strongly … seeing as how all of the MLS is under contract with Adidas.

    If you Google it you can find the Arsenal Colorado logo and such. It was ready to be unveiled and then taken back.

  • elkieno

    In Australia we have 4 main football codes with most of the fans watching 1. Rugby League (NSW, QLD), 2. AFL (all the other states) and then we have 3. Rugby Yawnion (it’s really crap and boring imo) sitting 3rd.
    The A-League (Football) has been revamped about 8 years ago and has just had its most successful season after bringing in a new team from the West of Sydney where millions live and an area that has been called the ‘Battle of the Codes’ to see who can win the hearts and minds of the people to support their code. In my opinion the A-League has pretty much got their foot in the door with this and only need to continue to be relatively successful to be able to take over the area completely. Because in their debut season, West Sydney Wanderers won the Home and Away part of the season, but just missed out on the ‘Grand Final’. At the moment there are no Cup Comps so we have 1 trophy for the ‘minor championship’ (which is home/away) and Grand Final (play-off between top 8 sides after H/A).
    We have clubs like Sydney FC who get marquee signings like A. Del Piero (class act btw), or Melbourne Victory with Harry Kewell although I hate him as a footballer he thinks he is Australia’s bestest ever player great at Leeds days and shit at Liverpool. He has a head so big he must drive a clowns car to fit his head out the top.
    BTW the Melbourne club play at the Etihad stadium, but as it is in Melbourne I have no idea about its history. It does have a retractable roof though, City’s doesn’t?
    Tony, I don’t know how you can put together these articles that clearly need researching, it makes me feel lazy and a bum but love the site for sure.
    Anyway, if you go to youtube and search for West Sydney Wanderers you will see all their fans and the atmosphere they create is nothing that the other codes has witnessed before and that is the attractiveness of it to people. However the most important ingredients you need to get a new code like football off the ground is to have a DERBY in any given city. They brought in a new team in 2 years ago called Melbourne Heart to rival Melbourne Victory, which worked excellently. So when they brought in a 2nd team to rival Sydney, it worked even better. So my point is that it’s is best to have local derby’s in cities you are located, that way it stokes the flames and starts a hatred that can be worked on and enhanced so as to keep the bums on seats.
    But what is the benefit of having City teaming up with them and starting a new club, just to get his name out there and his country as trust worthy place to visit?
    Why do it through football? If he wants to get his name/country out there why not just do a baseball, NFL, basketball club?

  • bob

    Mr. Attwood,
    Do you protest too much? Weren’t you Ok with a breakaway (super-) league” just a quick couple of years ago, when the big boyz — including Arsenal — in the (your) model were mulling a revolt against Blatter/Platini choke hold, or something quite close to that?

    And (as A. Stewart references) Stan owns the MLS Colorado Rapids. Would you want them to be Arsenal’s farm team or some such synergistic relationship with AFC?

    And, with our Thierry already in New Jersey (red bulls) – the natural rival to the NY Football Club — perhaps there’s already an outpost in the Big Apple and room for another statue here, just across the pond?

  • bob

    scott47a,
    Cheers mate: And here’s the link to the logo: http://soccerstop.com/Images/images/Logos/arsenalcoloradologo.jpg

  • bob

    Herb,
    Sorry, missed your already having informed us on Stan’s already being an MLS owner.

  • ARSENAL 13

    well Stan owning a franchise doesnt mean ARSENAL own a franchise…..or does it??

  • Stuart

    Funny all these Man City fans trying to compare our ownership to theirs. Yes, our majority owner also owns other sports teams but that is his business. My understanding of the Man City deal is that Man City will actually own the other club and not the owner of Man City.

    This sets up an opportunity for Man City to make big purchases at New York City FC which are then sold on to Man City at a loss in order to keep within FFP. I’m pretty sure I had brought this loophole up before.