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Tuesday Kickaround

*According to D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper, negotiations with ironman midfielder Clyde Simms "are moving along very well" but that the club is still in talks with veteran right back Bryan Namoff. Hmmm. Both players are out of contract on Jan. 1.

*After helping Wellington to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle with a 70-minute effort, DCU on-loan midfielder Fred prepares to face his former Australian league club.

*Montreal officials tell their side of the story in the demise of the city's MLS expansion bid.

*The MLS "season" is not over. I repeat: It is not over.

*Americans abroad yesterday: Goalkeeper Tim Howard went 90 minutes in Everton's 1-0 loss at Wigan; defender Danny Califf played 90 in Midtjylland's 2-1 victory at Randers; and defender Gregg Berhalter went 90 in 1860 Munich's 1-0 victory at Hansa Rostock (Heath Pearce did not play for the hosts).

*Fox Soccer Channel has secured the rights to the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will be played in July, as well as the 2011 tournament. All telecasts will also be streamed live via foxsoccer.tv

*Plenty of Champions League viewing options today:
Zenit St. Petersburg-Juventus 12:30 p.m. ESPN Deportes
Villarreal-Manchester United 2:30 p.m. ESPN
Arsenal-Dynamo Kiev 2:30 p.m. Setanta
Bate-Real Madrid 5 p.m. ESPN Classic
Fenerbahce-Porto 5:45 p.m. Setanta
Fiorentina-Lyon 7:30 p.m. Setanta

*The NCAA men's tournament continues today with 16 second-round matches, including second-seeded Maryland hosting George Mason and Virginia welcoming Connecticut. Kickoff for both games is 7 p.m. Also, William and Mary visits No. 1 seed and defending champion Wake Forest and Loyola (Md.) hosts UNC Greensboro.

*An MLS Cup celebration in the HDC stands with a shakier camera than "Cloverfield" (pass the Dramamine):

By Steve Goff  |  November 25, 2008; 6:55 AM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF , College Soccer , D.C. United , MLS , TV , U.S. men's national team  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Seattle's Options
Next: Del Boca Vista

Comments

"I can only assume that the expansion fee – and the expansion fee alone – is the predominant criteria for entering MLS." - Saputo


Sadly, I think he's right.

Posted by: afadgsafhgd | November 25, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

I sure hope we resign Namoff. I can't imagine a backline without him!

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | November 25, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Of course the expansion fee is a big part of getting into MLS.

Is that really any news???

The only news here is that Saputo and Gillette got blown off by the league the way that they did. They seem like they got caught blind by the "ACK! Rejected! Get back to us when you are REALLY ready" response.

If you are working with different currency then you have to factor in shifting exchange rates. If S&G wanted a discount...Well, "too bad, so sad".

Offer the extra $9 mil US and be done with it. If you can't get the $9 mil then maybe, just maybe you aren't ready.

Supply and demand. MLS has a very limited supply available. So they can demand whatever the market will bare. Personally,

I am admitedly dreadful in finance (like most other things) but $40 mil to buy the rights to operate a franchise in MLS seems WAY steep to me, especially given the global economic changes that are currently being experienced. But if MLS can find groups to pay it then it must not be "too high". It will be very interesting to see if MLS is ever willing and able to reduce the expansion fee amount. Right now, it clearly does not have to.

This has nothing to do with Montreal being an excellent "organisation" (how do you say that in French?). Or Montreal being an enchanting city. Or having their new stadium. It is all about the ca$h.

Many things are "fluid" in economics. S&G should realize that. Just ask Philly and the SOB's. Word is that they are sweating bullets about not being able to get rolling when they are supposed to. Heck. They might never make it. Seriously. They can be replaced. Garber and MLS have got it like that right now...

Posted by: yankiboy | November 25, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Glad Saputo is out. Now he is just lying and trying to save face.

Sweet; taking a half-day today before the holidays, so I'll definitely be watching Rossi v ManU.

Posted by: Reignking | November 25, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

It sounds like MLS (Garber) really screwed up with Montreal.

I think MLS needs to consider long term popularity when picking a city not just who can pay the initial entry fee. Just because an investor can shell out $40 million in Iowa City doesn’t mean that market should have a clear advantage over a team in Montreal with $38 million, a soccer stadium, 15,000 fans and probably enough support to sell out the first 5-6 seasons.

And if Garber is going to reject a team he needs to make a much better argument to the public on why he has dropped a market out of contention or investors will fight back. The Impact pumped a lot of money into the MLS bid already and they aren’t going to go without a fight.

Posted by: Southeasterner | November 25, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

This guy will take $40,000,000 CDN over Miami no matter who their partner is.

Saputo is right, aside from the expansion fee, they're ready to go - you don't even need to hold an expansion draft. Expand the stadium and start playing.

What will be said of Montreal when FIU's football lines mar a game in Miami? What will be said when the Miami market proves that it's as fickle as they come? What will be said when Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez are not in South Beach for MLS but on holiday from Europe?

Seattle was great because it came with almost everything ready to go.

I'm not discounting that it's all about money and MLS set the price and it shouldn't be soft about it. However, are we telling a group that understands the vagaries of North American soccer to take the financial backing of a giant who swoops in for summer friendlies and feels that just because their brand for their flagship is huge, that their little sister team will experience the same backing (COUGH - CHIVAS - COUGH)

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | November 25, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

*If I raise 40 million pesos and have a soccer stadium in a Mexican border town, can I buy an MLS franchise? Rubbish. The ticket to play is in US dollars. C'est la vie. Montreal still can nurture a sense of grievance and remain, well, separate. They'll get plenty of grudge matches against Toronto and other MLS teams.

*Dadryan -- Texas A&M women v. UNC in Chapel Hill Friday.

*Americans abroad -- What about Dempsey going 84 in Fulham's draw at Liverpool? It's odd to me that his EPL starting performances seem to be drawing a fraction of the interest generated by Donovan's training sessions in Munich or Adu's benchwarming in France.

Posted by: OWNTF | November 25, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I could be wrong, but I got the feeling that Montreal do not even want to pay the 36 million USD anymore. They seem so confident about their situation that they thought they could win a bid without paying a fee at all (or perhaps they are jealous of TFC and would be willing to pay the 20 mil USD 2006 fee).

There are other cities in better markets, with solid stadium plans, who are willing to pay the 40 Mil USD. They deserve it. The expansion fee, though ridiculously high, is a buy in. It is a single entity structure and it would not be fair to people like Hunt and AEG if they invested early and invested a lot, and then gave a way a piece of the eventual profits for next to nothing because these investors are doing it at a bad time.

Posted by: Kyle6 | November 25, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

The fact that 6 other owners knew the fee and have agreed in principle to pay it says that 40 mil is fair. Currency fluctuations? Please. There are ways to hedge financial transaction of this size.

Posted by: Reignking | November 25, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Is the George Mason UMD game on tv anywhere? (Stupid question eh?) How 'bout a streamed radio broadcast?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | November 25, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

...Montreal with $38 million, a soccer stadium, 15,000 fans and probably enough support to sell out the first 5-6 seasons.

And if Garber is going to reject a team he needs to make a much better argument to the public on why he has dropped a market out of contention or investors will fight back. The Impact pumped a lot of money into the MLS bid already and they aren’t going to go without a fight.


Posted by: Southeasterner | November 25, 2008 8:34 AM
-------------------------------------------
I', not so sure that Montreal fans are willing to pay market value to support a club. I think many people are expecting what happend in TO to be replicated in Montreal. That is not a given. Impact fans have payed below market rate for their matches. Many of the tickets were given away or people payed like $6 Canadian. It was the result of their non-profit structure and the economic relationship that they had with the provincial government. I will be very interesting to see how many people up there are willing to fork out $25 Canadian per ticket. I'm not saying that they won't. I'm just saying that it will be interesting to see if they do or not (for matched that aren't against TFC).

As far as your last point, Bro-Garber is in the driver's seat. He doesn't have to explain anything well to anyone other than the current investors. And even they know that the league is in the driver's seat and pretty much holds all the cards right now. There are still several other markets that want in. Supply & Demand. When the demand wanes, then the league and DG will have to reasses the expanison fee and requirements. If the current investors wanted Montreal in bad enough then they would be in.

Posted by: yankiboy | November 25, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

As a fan, I hate the idea that a great market with a stadium ready can't get in due to an expansion fee that doesn't really impact my enjoyment of the league. If the 40 million, through a raise in salaries, investment into youth develoment, or whatever, was to have a tangible effect on what I watch, it would be different. But to me, it means watching what will likely be Miami version 2 (in what ultimately will be a 45,000 seat American football stadium) as opposed to perhaps Toronto version 2.

As far as I can tell, that money just goes to offset losses incurred years ago by some of the current ownership. Obviously it's well within their right to do so, and maybe I'd do the same thing if I were them, but as a fan I don't have to like it!

Posted by: Wendell_Gee | November 25, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The fact that 6 other owners knew the fee and have agreed in principle to pay it says that 40 mil is fair. Currency fluctuations? Please. There are ways to hedge financial transaction of this size.

Posted by: Reignking | November 25, 2008 9:18 AM
-------------------------------------------From all of the information currently available, Ottawa and the Whitecaps seemed to have navegated that issue, huh???

They are willing to PAY the money.

S&G are looking for a "discount". Why should he get one? Not when there are other markets lined up. They bring an awful lot to the table. No doubt. Just not enough for Garber and MLS to give them a discount. At least not now and not for the forseeable future.

Saputo was crying when MLSE got into MLS with TFC. He had been saying for years that MLS wanted way to much, that it was ludicrous what they were asking for. Then he saw TFC blow up and decided that he wanted to get in. If you want in the buy in.

Doesn't make a difference to me. Either way, I have a club to cheer for that plays against Montreal Impact. Puerto Rico Islanders or DC United. It's all good. The real shame would be if I didn't have the chance to "hate" on them. Either way, I'm looking forward to getting up to that Stadium and getting back to one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in North America. The only question is what jersey I will be wearing when I roll up into the stade.

Posted by: yankiboy | November 25, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Reading the transcript from Saputo's speech is really a kick in the groin. Objectively, Montreal was easily the best situation for Major League Soccer, and everything he said in his speech outlined how Montreal is still overall in a better position than almost every MLS team.

Montreal had everything you can ask for: a strong fan base, a soccer-specific stadium, experienced owners, strong backing, a natural rivalry that could have been the League's best from the first year, and, as he mentioned, an already strong team that wouldn't dilute the MLS talent pool when they joined the league.

Posted by: kingchros | November 25, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

someone who knows better, help me out here:
What kind of annual money does MLS make off the teams? I'm guessing some of the TV revenue, some of the merch revenue...are those right? Anything else?

Assuming that MLS doesn't just get a check up front and then never sees a dime from the teams again, I think it'd be smart to take Montreal regardless. If they're already drawing 13,000+ a game (dunno about the discounted ticket comment earlier) and that's without a Beckham / Blanco / etc. game to pad your stats, and have a strong operation already in place, media presence, decent team...I don't see why you'd gamble and hope that someone else paying the $40M could replicate this. Chivas didn't.

And it's hard to say where the truth lies, but if the league really was that non-communicative with them this whole year, that's pretty crappy when you're trying to build a rep. Yes, Garber/MLS hold the keys, but the league still has a long way to go to being profitable.

Posted by: eadc | November 25, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Is the George Mason UMD game on tv anywhere? (Stupid question eh?) How 'bout a streamed radio broadcast?

Posted by: 9Nine9 | November 25, 2008 9:23 AM
__________________________________________

You can use this site to follow all 16 of tonight's games from your 'puter:

http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/2008/ncaa_bracket_DI_soccer_men.html

Each game should, at a minimum, have a gametracker. For those matches for which audio and/or video is available, there should be links from this site (e.g., click on Loyola-UNCG to see a video link). I don't see such a link for Maryland-GMU, but one may be added later today, so check back. (Doesn't campus station WUMC broadcast a lot of Terps footie?)

This site will be around for the duration of the tournament. Also, there is a corresponding site for the NCAA women;s tournament:

http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/2008/ncaa_bracket_DI_soccer_women.html

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Montreal had everything, except apparently the price of admission. As others have noted, MLS is single entity, the minimum investement to buy what will be a half share in 1/18th of the league is $40mUS. How it it that I knew this and the Impact folks didn't? That's not $20m on a stadium, plus $16m on other improvements, marketing and players, that's $40m on TOP of your other stipulations. This was hardly a well kept secret. I don't blame MLS at all for not spending a lot of energy on a bid that didn't bother to mention that little tidbit.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | November 25, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

eadc: MLS owns a controlling interest in all the teams, the putative 'owners' are really just investors in the larger corporation that is MLS. So MLS makes all the money from concessions, what not, pays team salaries, and other things.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | November 25, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

It's too bad Montreal wasn't ready two years ago when Toronto got in.

Please God, let Houston tie with Firpo.

Posted by: Juan-John | November 25, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

It seems unfair that Montreal wants to get in at a 'discount' when the existing MLS ownership group has dealt with hundreds of millions of losses and are just now beginning to break even. The newer MLS ownership teams have paid their dues in the form of increased team values. Montreal just wants to cut some corners.

Now, if Montreal cutting corners makes MLS more valuable, perhaps, it's worth offering a discount. But if a strong Montreal franchise doesn't improve MLS anymore than a strong Portland, Miami, or St. Louis franchise, why bother?

Posted by: mbyrd28 | November 25, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

To be fair here, they did submit a bid with the funds, when the exchange rate was more favorable. Nowhere does Saputo say that MLS asked them to increase the bid amount, because of the exchange rate issue, so the rejection seems a bit arbitrary.

That said, the fee is too steep -- especially under current economic conditions. At the top of the league's own list was to get a bid from the Wilpon group in New York -- but there was no bid because the fee was too high. That should tell everyone something about whether the fee is set to the right amount.

The MLS should be focused on getting the right ownership in place and, more importantly, expanding in the right markets. A few million $$ more upfront shouldn't be the deciding factor. There may be some filthy rich rubes willing to pay for teams in lesser markets, but that doesn't make that the best situation for the league's long-term health.

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Goff, you've spoiled us. We've gotten used to the full weekend round-up of Yanks Abroad, so the slim pickings from Monday will cause grumbling...

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes it seems as if the existing investors are making more money off expansion fees than anything else. It has the whiff of multilevel marketing about it.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

You bet they are making money off of it. And they are setting their franchise valuations.

If Saputo is getting pinched by the exchange rate, that is his fault. I think it is just an excuse. He thought he had room to negotiate, and he was wrong.

Posted by: Reignking | November 25, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

U+p: yeah, that's how people make money in sports. It's not about operating income, it's about resale price.

And it wouldn't be MLS job to adjust for rates. The price was $40m (US). If bidding in another currency, there are ways to handle that. Are people really thinking that neither of these two jokers has $40m in dollar denominated assets? Please.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | November 25, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Goff, you've spoiled us.

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 10:59 AM
=================

Yeah. This drug-tapering stage is nonetheless giving me withdrawal symptoms.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 25, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't get all the crying over the rejection of Montreal. Screw those dirty Quebecois. I'm much more interested in adding teams to great AMERICAN soccer cities like Portland and St Louis. No love for Miami part-deux either.

Posted by: alecw81 | November 25, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Sigi was on FoxFootyFools last night saying (1) that he was surprised that DC left Carroll unprotected and (2) that BC in instrumental in organizing the defense. He also entertained the idea that Seattle will contact him and that he would do the polite thing and hear them out if Columbus gives him permission. Refreshing candor from a had coach.

Those two guys though. If you're not on the show, they're at your throat. If you are, they're at your feet.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 25, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

At the top of the league's own list was to get a bid from the Wilpon group in New York -- but there was no bid because the fee was too high.

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 10:55 AM
_________________________________________

What is your source for this? I vaguely recall reading something about how the Wilpon group felt that their envisioned Flushing SSS was too far in the future to bid at this time. I don't recall any discussion of the initiation fee as such.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Cmon, Sigi just won the double -- how can you call him a had coach? ;)

Posted by: Reignking | November 25, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

here's a link for the game on the radio tonight: http://www.wmucsports.com/

According to the page, it says coverage starts at 6:40 PM.

Posted by: fonkyou | November 25, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I-270: There is a new response to your discussion questions in the "matchday" thread.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Screw those dirty Quebecois.

Posted by: alecw81 | November 25, 2008 11:41 AM
_________________________________________

Substitute "Jews", "Italians", etc. and see how it sounds.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Not as bad considering "Quebecois" isn't necessarily a race or nationality. Had they said "Frenchies" you would have had a point, so lighten up, Francis.

Posted by: EricB1 | November 25, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Eric B1: Religious and sexual minorities aren't races or nationalities, either. Nor are people with disabilities. So I guess slurs directed at them are OK.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

What is your source for this? I vaguely recall reading something about how the Wilpon group felt that their envisioned Flushing SSS was too far in the future to bid at this time. I don't recall any discussion of the initiation fee as such.

Posted by: universityandpark | November 25, 2008 11:50 AM
---------------------------------------------

Here's my source:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/21/sports/soccer/21soccer.html

Perhaps the biggest surprise among the seven bidders was the absence of the Fred Wilpon family, which owns the Mets. M.L.S. officials dearly want a second team in the New York metropolitan area (the Red Bulls are building a new stadium and a new training facility in New Jersey) but the Mets are reluctant to pay the fee of $40 million to $50 million for an expansion team.

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

University Park is right. The "dirty Quebecois" comment was unfunny, and it was offensive. No reason to lighten up here. If you're going to make a comment like that in print, you should provide some cue that you're trying to be funny, rather than offensive. Otherwise, it's easy to assume the latter is true.

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I am just happy there has been some transparency about this process from a business perspective. MLS is basically a pyramid scheme. In the Forbes survey, most of the league teams were valued under $40M so I don't blame Montreal for trying to bluff MLS a bit. I am not sure why the other cities don't.

Posted by: IamAM | November 25, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"MLS is basically a pyramid scheme."

Ummm it's called multi-level marketing, and it's perfectly legal. But what do you except with Herbalife and XanGo for sponsors?

@U&P: noted

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | November 25, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Even had Montreal been able to pay the price of MLS admission, the $$ demographics of the Montreal fan base are really not that great. Montreal has lots of recent immigrants - who like Miami - are more tied to their home country teams than some local football club. MLS may have done their due diligence on this issue...we just don't know but currency fluctuations and the need to pay salaries in USD have long been an issue for Canadian professional teams. The exodus of NHL teams from Canada to the U.S. is a case in point. Only recently has the Canadian dollar risen to parity but with the financial crisis the flight to USD has overwhelmed many national currencies.

Posted by: sbg1 | November 25, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Agreed sbg1. It would seem the timing is not right for a Canadian club.

Posted by: fischy | November 25, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Really the timing isn't right for any club, but especially a Canadian club. Maybe Saputo is using the fee as an excuse not to part with all that money in times like these. I probably would too...

Posted by: hawknt | November 25, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Fred's out on loan? How'd I miss that?

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | November 26, 2008 6:22 AM | Report abuse

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