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MLS chief argues US not ready for promotion and relegation or winter season

'We are new to this' says MLS commissioner Don Garber as to why the league doesn't adopt European standard practices, 'We don't have 100 years of professional soccer history'.
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber speaks at the Soccerex convention in Manchester on Wednesday. Daniel Smith / Getty Images / September 9, 2015
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber speaks at the Soccerex convention in Manchester on Wednesday. Daniel Smith / Getty Images / September 9, 2015

MLS chief Don Garber on Wednesday pleaded for US football to be left to run its own system with no relegation or promotion which he said could threaten its existence.

With the MLS celebrating its 20th anniversary, Garber also said he was increasingly confident that David Beckham has overcome obstacles that have blocked the creation of a landmark new team in Miami.

Fears have been raised that a new Fifa leadership to be elected next year could signal a change in attitude towards the United States, where the closed league has no relegation and takes a long winter break because of the harsh weather in the north.

“We are certainly hopeful that they will continue to allow us to do what we have done pretty effectively – which is grow the game in our country in a way which has probably exceeded most people’s expectations,” Garber said on the sidelines of the Soccerex convention in Manchester,

“We are new to this. We don’t have 100 years of professional soccer history.

“We are trying to do that in a way that ensures that we are around for a long period of time.”

Garber said the current system “ensures some level of financial stability. It also allows you to create a fan base.”

“We have got to go into markets like Columbus and get people to be soccer fans and Kansas City, where at one point we were thinking about moving that team.”

A year after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new stadium, Sporting Kansas City won the MLS title in 2013.

“I don’t know who we are harming. Our calendar works for us because it would be really bad for our fans and our players to play in February when it is (below freezing) and there is four feet of snow on the ground. Who is that good for?”

Currently, MLS only competes in the American sporting market with baseball during the summer. Winter would open it up to the NFL, NBA, NHL as well as collegiate athletics.

Garber said promotion and relegation “would create a level of instability in an immature market that could crater the very existence of our league. Who is that good for?”

The MLS also hopes for the arrival of more foreign stars and the creation of Beckham’s team to help a new boom.

Beckham’s syndicate now has a potential site at the old Orange Bowl stadium in Miami.

Garber said that until then, there had been no realistic expectations that a team would be established in the Florida city.

The land is still not fully under Beckham’s control. “There is a relationship being discussed with the various political powers to get it in the hands of David and his partners.

“I am confident more than ever before that we will be able to get something done.”

Atlanta will join the MLS in 2017, a new Los Angeles team in 2018 and potentially Minneapolis the same year.

“Should David be able to cross the Ts and dot the Is, Miami will be the 24th team,” Garber said, without giving a date.

“We never thought we would get to 20. We certainly didn’t think we would get to 24.

“I think there are many more major league cities that have interest in coming into our league that we hope to find a way over the next 10 or 20 years to have them come into the league.”

Garber said he would like to set up a tournament with the English Premier League. But he added that no talks have been held with the English Football Association.

“It is an aspiration,” said the football chief.

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Updated: September 10, 2015 04:00 AM



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