May 23rd, 2013
07:25 PM ET

Is NYFC a good thing for the MLS?

New York Yankees president Randy Levine, MLS chief Don Garber and Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano revealed the new franchise plans.
New York Yankees president Randy Levine, MLS chief Don Garber and Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano revealed the new franchise plans.

Major League Soccer prides itself on its rapid expansion. And with good reason. Just eight years ago, there were only 10 MLS teams alive and kicking.  

That tally will now rise to 20 with the all-new Nycfc set to debut in 2015. But does their arrival on the scene spell double-trouble for the league and are MLS fans as a whole being short-changed by it all?

There’s no doubt that relatively-speaking these are boom times for the soccer scene in the States. Attendances overall are up.  Just go to any Portland or Seattle home game and you’ll witness a vibrant, passionate crowd that would put a lot of their European counterparts to shame. 

Read: City and Yankees form new MLS franchise

MLS is a sound business model and very much on the right track but I just can’t help wondering to what extent the proposed  New York City FC  multi-million dollar deal might be risky business.

Sound financial planning has always been key to the league and its mantra but the  rule-book went out the window to some degree when David Beckham signed on with the L-A Galaxy seven years ago. 

The stringent salary cap was relaxed and in came the three-designated players rule. Now think about it for just a moment.  Would that really be enough for the new franchise’s owners?  Remember who they are after all!  Manchester City belong to Sheikh Mansour and as a club – in terms of spending prowess- money is truly no object - and he will demand success. 

And what should we make of the Yankees involvement in all this? I still recall their marketing tie- in with Manchester’s “other” club United back in the early 2000s. It didn’t last and there always seemed to be a lack of clarity over how it all worked? 

Read: Manchester City sack manager Roberto Mancini

Will things be different this time around? It would appear so and that can only be good news for City who’ll be benefit from the Yanks’ stature and local clout.  

As I understand it- the most famous brand in baseball will be part-owners and will certainly have a huge say in vital issues like where in fact the new club will play but again we're left wanting to learn more about what exactly their role will be.

I have to conclude this is a great news for footy fans in the New York City area but what about the rest of the country?

The Red Bulls' average home attendance already falls well short of its 25,000 capacity and the Big Apple also has the reformed New York Cosmos on the scene too.

Read: Yankees star Jeter out until mid-July

Is this potentially soccer over- saturation New York style?  I realize it's the allure of the lucrative Nyc market and all that but has the league missed a great opportunity to truly put new meaning into the word " expansion"?

For example- take the huge area of land known as the Southeastern USA. Not an MLS franchise in sight.

Why? Where I live in Atlanta I'd have to travel some nine hours by car to go and watch my "local" team- DC United in Washington!

Having grown up in North West England- the City fans I know would never have dreamed of seeing the day their club would launch a spin-off franchise in the United States - with the added benefit of being able to loan out players to the MLS side.    

Most I'm quite sure would rather the club be fully focused on prioritizing the search for a new manager or improving their woeful recent Champions League record.

In fact- they might even  be wondering  if they'll possibly even get to see Yankees baseball at the Etihad some day!

I have no doubt the MLS' newest franchise will soon become the league's undisputed super-power backed by the world-wide might of City and the Yankees.

I'm left with this nagging doubt though.  Will the other 19 be able to seriously compete? If so, how?  The MLS landscape has changed rather dramatically now and it all seems to have happened quicker than a New York minute.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. mc

    Maybe. But I think you are looking at this from the wrong angle.

    Whilst NYCFC may become a powerhouse, the real benefits will be to Manchester City themselves, who are registered as 75% owners, and not Sheikh Mansour.

    What this will do will allow MCFC to grow the brand across the North American continent (and possibly parts of the Southern continent, too), and the financial rewards for doing so will be massive.

    On top of that, there is also the potential of City sending Academy players on-loan to NYCFC, *and* should NYCFC uncover potential stars they could find themselves moving across the Atlantic to Manchester, probably for no more than a nominal fee.

    The future is Blue, and now America will see so for themselves.

    May 23, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  2. Jon P

    Hey Patrick, I recommend reading this piece that MLS put up on their website:

    NYC FC is committed to competing within the standard structure of the league. As far as loanees go, I expect it will be primarily young talent. There was an interesting article about 3 weeks ago in one of the English papers that indicated that Soriano and Begiristan didn't feel like the EDS competition was strong enough to truly improve the players in part because of the fact they often played in front of a few hundred people if that.

    Man City are waiting until Malaga's season is over to officially announced Pellegrini. He'll be on the job next Monday.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  3. Joe Millar

    You need to chill...New York Citeh will be competitive...but the opportunity is there NOW for any up and coming New Yorker kids good at soccer to get a chance to make football a career. Man City do care about their community and having firmly promised to put their oar in New York the care will be there too...City are committed to the youth of today but the real deal won't really come to fruition until the youth of tomorow !!

    May 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  4. charliej11

    You don't get MLS do you ?

    Not saying that NY will not be a force, they could be and MLS expanding to 3 DPs was a mistake for me. But to auto assume that they will be is very foolish, much less dominate. Having 3 DPs takes $1 million of a $3 million salary cap. Good luck keeping your other talent, who are paid with $2 million spread over 25 or so other players (averaging $75k)

    Not saying they can't....other off balance players have kept Seattle and LA strong for awhile, but there will be plenty of competition. Ask LA with and without Omar in back last year, have a gap in your lineup, you don't make the playoffs.

    May 23, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  5. Andy

    Where and how does Reyna fit in?

    May 24, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Reply
  6. USCasual

    The Man City tag is what will kill this franchise.. Any sporting fan will not want to be associated with Man City if they support other sides. Likewise can be said for Yankee fans. Granted the yankees are the most popular team, but baseball fans don't care about football. Throw in they are calling it a football team and not a soccer team will also throw people for a loop. This will be a huge fail for MLS and Don Garber.. There is really no support for this side and quite frankly the initial buzz was good, but they will be lucky to draw close to NYRB after the dust settles.

    May 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  7. Joeblow

    USCasual – Your comment made me all giggling inside. No way this franchise fails

    November 15, 2013 at 12:02 am | Reply
  8. Geff

    It appears this article is now irrelevant as the next 3 expansion clubs are all int he southeast US – Orlando, Atlanta & Miami.

    May 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Reply

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