Yesterday, Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner Don Garber addressed Chivas USA supporters in a letter regarding the latest news for the Los Angeles club. In his communication, Garber confirmed the sale of the organization to MLS, as well as a basic timeline for the remainder of the year. The team will continue to host home matches at the StubHub Center, and remain as Chivas USA for the 2014 season, after which a rebranding will take place. The Commissioner also noted preliminary discussions with “a number of very qualified potential owners,” as well as an intention to sell the club before the conclusion of 2014. Essentially, MLS will act as caretaker of Chivas USA while finding a suitable owner.
The move marks the second significant involvement of the League within the past seven months in team affairs, the other being an estimated payment of the US$9M transfer fee for Clint Dempsey from Tottenham Hotspur. The move is nontraditional, but similarly to the Dempsey deal, is best for both the League, and especially the soon-to-be-rebranded Chivas USA.
Despite a history of negative press, missed opportunities, and challenges that still linger, Chivas USA presents a great opportunity in one of the most prominent sports markets in the nation. As evidenced by the Miami – Beckham buzz, MLS franchises are at an all-time high in terms of popularity and attractiveness. The local market, combined with a rebranding, will for the most part be a clean slate for the team. It’s a legitimate opportunity for the right buyer who is willing to bring, and pay for, the talent to accommodate the area’s expectations. There should be no challenge in bringing major talent in from Europe before the 2015 season, with the chance to not only be a celebrity in America’s capital of celebrities, but also the face of a franchise with a new look, mission, and identity.
Commissioner Garber neglected to detail further specifics of the deal.