Tuesday, March 17, 2020

MLS: An Altered Future

The last week has reshaped our world in ways that we quite possibly never imagined. Here in Ohio, they seem to know that the Coronavirus is much more widespread than the official number of confirmed cases (50 as of this writing) because they have now closed just about everything in the state, including schools, for an indefinite amount of time.

MLS, like all the other professional leagues across the globe, have closed their doors, but curiously added a timeframe of 30 days. Given the news at the time, and especially now, 30 days is not in any way a realistic number. The NBA is very open about plans to restart the season and they are not expecting to restart until at least June. And that is without fans.

There are pressures on MLS that might not be on other leagues.

MLS was only able to play two rounds of games. That's only 6% of the regular season. Include the playoffs and it shrinks even further. NBA, NHL, College Basketball conferences all almost made it to their playoffs. If the season is truncated (which I think is likely), they will take an incredible hit. Not just on the TV side, but also on the game-day revenue side. Games will likely have to be canceled.

MLS also doesn't own all the facilities where they play, so a long stoppage will start bumping up against everyone and everything trying to squeeze in their event like concerts, conventions, NFL and College gridiron games, etc. MLS also does not have the resources to pay employees wages during the work stoppage like the other "big four" leagues in the United States.

MLS just doesn't think this will blow over in 30 days. They NEED it to blow over in 30 days. If this lasts longer, MLS investors will have to start getting very creative in how to hold things together until they can start training and playing again.

Best estimates have that happening in June or July. That only gives MLS a few months to cram in as much as they can. I don't see that as an option at this point. So, now what.


If my hunch is correct, MLS is looking at flipping the calendar. The MLS 2020 Season will become the 2020/21 MLS Season with the season starting in August or September and going to late spring, early summer.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Lines up transfer windows. 
Primary and secondary windows in Europe see completely different amounts of money being spent. Right now MLS is starting their season in the "secondary" window, where the biggest spenders are only looking for a couple players. If MLS wants to join the party they have to switch.

2. LigaMX is merging with MLS.
MLS and LigaMX have made it clear that they want more games vs. each other. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. MLS provides some stability (bottomless pits of money) and some added structure. LigaMX brings passion, fans, and better soccer. Currently, LigaMX plays a Fall - Winter / Winter - Summer schedule. The two leagues already face off during the CCL, various friendlies, and a new summer tournament. Switching the calendar greases the rails for advancing the merger objective.

3. Hot Weather Ruins Games.
Baseball is the perfect summer sport. Soccer is the furthest thing from it. Midfield players can run around 6-8 miles during a match. No timeouts, foul shots, or quarter breaks to give you a blow or reset the players mentality. The league is increasingly moving south. To continue to play games in the summer not only slows the game down to a crawl, but it's also dangerous for players. With a short winter break that lines up with team retooling during the secondary transfer window couldn't fit more perfectly. More games in reasonable weather, including the playoffs and league final, is a no brainer that easily offsets a few December and February inconveniences. With more teams in warm/moderate weather, they can be scheduled around, anyway.

1 comment:

vidda grubin said...

Larry, not sure I need to comment. May dig up my long post from a few years ago. The league is close to being able to pull this off. With a little bit of wiggle it's done. Would be a great move.