Take a moment to acknowledge the clip below…..as a plea from the fans to the MLS braintrust….on both sides.
Matt Damon’s Will Hunting? MLS Owners & Players. Ben Affleck’s Chuckie Sullivan? The Fans.
First, let’s put a big juicy disclaimer on this piece. TSG tends to do a ton of research on pieces. We love it; it’s fun for us.
That being said, we’re going to skim the the cream of the MLS labor discussion and offer some very simple comments:
♦ Primarily, MLS owners are taking a risk on a product that historical data suggests is very challenged to succeed.
♦ Second, the bulk of MLS players are categorically underpaid.
♦ Third, FIFA is not getting involved saying that MLS owners are in compliance with FIFA guidelines.
♦ Fourth, there is too much rhetoric flying around to believe what anyone saying. Kasey Keller says this, the owners did this. Who knows what is true…..
A request from TSG
MLS, don’t waste your opportunity like Will Hunting almost did. The positivity of the World Cup is coming…the US is putting together a bid for WC 2018…..Landon just got a Gatorade ad….Thiery Henry may or may not come stateside, but the notion that it is a real possibility is progress.
Don’t sully the next month with rhetoric flying around and end up stymieing the growth of the league even for a second.
Keep your qualms out of the public so the overall product, the MLS, doesn’t suffer. It doesn’t make sense to slow the momentum that the MLS brand has garnered over the past 24 months. Honestly, there are really not enough fans–there is not enough “value” in the fans–in this tug-of-war to seek public opinion on either side of this tussle, so just don’t do it.
For our part, we know it is extremely difficult to make money from sports franchises. As I understand only two, or maybe three MLS franchises are profitable, Seattle, maybe Toronto? I’m not sure of others, but is not the majority–that is clear.
Beyond profit, owning a sports team in general comes down to two things: the stadium and cache.
Either the owner can create some cash flow through a stadium (through both the team and other events staged there) or their standing as the owner of the team opens doors to partnership or other power players by creating positive brand impact for the owner. TSG has some understanding of this space as this writer’s tech start-up provides a lot of technology to ticketing companies that support the arenas.
Let’s take Mark Cuban…does anyone know him for his sale of Broadcast.com to Yahoo in the early 2000(s)…nope. They know him as the owner of the Mavericks. Owning a sports franchise gives an owner a pulpit and a pass to entertain high level players or curry favorite with the city they operate in.
Most owners, like the Malcom Glazer purchasing Man U a few years ago, realize the annual returns from opertaions are inconsequential, but hope to make it upon building the value of the franchise and resale.
Owning an MLS team really doesn’t offer that cache yet. Nor does it, at this point, offer an “easy route” to making money through purchase and a resale premium.
For the players, they would not have a league to hock their wares if the MLS wasn’t so maniacally focused on sustainable growth. And that is the unfortunate truth.
The biggest risk from too low of a salary threshold is that the mid-tier players will join leagues overseas at a slightly higher premium and the league will be left with an 80-20 rule, with the 80% being lower-skilled low wage players and the 20% of less being high salaried talented players. That would compromise the product.
Coming back to today, TSG believes that this is all just rhetoric–neither side really thinks they can afford a strike in an industry where things aren’t profitable…you’re creating deeper losses where no profit exists. Doesn’t make sense.
We don’t know much…but we do know there is a golden and free marketing opportunity with the World Cup coming. There is positive momentum…don’t waste the fans time…focus on hammering out a solution not driving rhetoric in the press….twenty years from now if we still see a struggling league that has waste opporunties….
….you owe it to the fans.