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Is Don Garber Pleading Poverty?

mls-logo-useThere must be CBA negotiations going on as Major League Soccer Don Garber is complaining that clubs are losing more than $100 million annually combined..

According to Garber, these massive loses are due to player acquisitions, stadiums and spending on league infrastructure.

“I can say without doubt that our owners did not expect that by this time we’d still be needing to invest the level of money that we have been investing, and that’s just the reality of where our business is today,” Garber said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The current labor contract with players expires at the end of Jan. 31 and the sides needed assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 2010, when they reached an agreement five days before the season opener.

Garber said that he was optimistic a deal will be reached before would be reached before the 2015 season is scheduled to start in early March.

“You go into these discussions with an open mind and a desire to reach an agreement, and be as open as can, and be as transparent as can be,” Garber said.

For a league is such perilous financial situation, Garber still has big expansion plans over the next five years. MLS will expand to 20 teams next season with the addition of Orlando City and New York City FC. The club formerly known as Chivas USA will return in 20177 as Los Angeles FC as will an expansion club in Atlanta.

That brings us to 22 teams plus one in Miami that will be owned by David Beckham, but Garber did not seem that confident that the Miami franchise will ever take off..

“If they don’t have the right stadium we won’t go there,” Garber said. “Until they get it finalized we can’t make the commitment to go to Miami.”

Garber has said MLS will expand to 24 teams before the end of the decade, and his expansion committee is to speak with owners this weekend regarding overtures from Minneapolis, Sacramento and Las Vegas. A decision could be made within the first six months of 2015 on which city will be the next expansion market.

Things in MLS are not as gloomy as Garber paints them to be. Average MLS attendance was up almost 3% in 2014 to 19,148 and that enthusiasm carried over to TV as ESPN and ESPN2 combined saw a 9% increase in ratings in 2014 while NBCSN went up 27%in the final year of their MLS TV package.

And the new TV deal that the league signed with ESPN and Fox will be be worth around $70 million per year., which is a dramatic increase over the approximately $27 million per year in the current deals held by ESPN ($8 million), NBC ($10 million) and Univision ($9 million).

Hopefully the MLS Players Union can remind the commissioner of the growing number of soccer fans in the US at their next meeting.