Tuesday afternoon, Sports Ilustrated’s Grant Wahl broke the news regarding the ownership group whose team will replace Chivas USA in Los Angeles, likely beginning in 2017. The ownership group includes Henry Nguyen, Peter Guber, Vincent Tan and Tom Penn. While soccer fans may jump on the fact that Vincent Tan’s tenure as owner of Cardiff City in England hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, Tan would only be a minority partner, with Nguyen being the majority partner. In addition, LA2 fans can be excited by the involvement of Peter Guber who has helped bring about a turnaround for the Los Angeles Dodgers since becoming a part-owner of the MLB franchise.
The real news, which MLS will likely gloss over, is the fact that this is contraction for the league. The new LA team would be an expansion team in MLS, and Chivas USA would be dissolved. The league almost certainly will focus on the future and the potential for success this new ownership group brings, but the fact that Chivas USA is going to be dissolved and the new team won’t start until 2017 in all likelihood, means that this is contraction.
While it is indeed exciting that a new ownership group is coming in and paying over $100 million for a new franchise in Los Angeles, that fact should not overshadow that in dissolving the Chivas USA franchise the league is admitting failure and is failing its fans.
While the majority of the blame can be placed the feet of Jorge Vergara, the fact that MLS exists as a single entity league means that blame must be placed on the league as well. Single entity is supposed to prevent things like this from happening. Single entity is supposed to ensure that all teams are successful as organizations and don’t do things which put their existence at risk.
As a single entity league, MLS places restrictions on transfers and salaries in order to prevent teams from spending themselves out of existence as previous American soccer leagues had. Should they not also act to prevent teams from adopting roster policies which lead to discrimination claims and other actions which have led Chivas USA down this road to dissolution?
The owners of the Chivas USA franchise failed in many ways, but let’s not ignore the fact that this is indeed a failure on the part of Major League Soccer. By all means, let’s hope that the new franchise in Los Angeles succeeds, but we should also hope that MLS has learned from its own failures in regards to Chivas USA and does not repeat them in the future.
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