Friday, April 06, 2007

MLS's economic health

With the first kick just a bit more then 24-hours away, the LA Times takes a look at the league's finances.

On the economic front, there is not much new here for those who fit into the category of 'MLS nuts.' They rehash the leagues slow growth campaign, the influx of new owners, the TV contracts and the success of building soccer specific stadiums.

All it is great to read such news, I found the comments of Bob Foose, the executive director of the MLS Players Union, much more interesting:

"From when we started negotiating four years ago, it's a very different landscape," Foose said. "There clearly is a lot more revenue coming in … [but] they're still much, much too secretive with us on those numbers … so it's hard for us to get an exact picture of where things are."

This comment is not really much of a surprise since MLS management is a secret society on par with Skull & Bones and the Freemasons. But it is interesting how it builds to comments about the 2010 union agreement renewal, specifically in terms of the much-celebrated single entity system.

The MLS Players Union, however, views single entity not as much as a fiscal option but rather as an almost insidious device.

"Thus far the league has exercised and gotten used to exercising complete control over everything," Fosse said. "That's a big problem for the players and something that is going to have to change in the next deal" in 2010 when the union agreement comes up for renewal.

Fosse is speaking to the future of the league. The single entity system was needed to get this thing off the ground and keep it floating, but the days of needing this extra support are coming to an end. It might still be another 10-years away, but it will happen.

With the cost of buying into the league increasing, new owners will want more control. At some point the possible money they can make on their own will out weigh the benefits of staying joined at the hip and the system will dissolve. But between now and then, the league needs to step up and treat their players right.

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