Okay, no, I probably would not have started a multi-part dissection of an accounting firm report, no matter how outrageously horrible it was, had I known that the US men would fail to qualify for the World Cup. And since events in the American soccer world are, shall we say, proceeding apace, I should probably stop indulging myself with this. What can I say? If you’ve got the dead horse, I’ve got the bat.
I mean, hell, my beloved Galaxy did more pooch-screwing than Spuds McKenzie on its way to the championship of the Brown Creek Regatta, and I can barely summon the attention to be mad about it, let alone inflict you with “America’s Sweethearts Enter Fourth Year of Heartbreak.”
There is one important point I think genuinely needs to be made before we finally bury this report, and the idea of promotion and relegation in the United States.
The NASL enjoyed considerable success in terms of capturing the imagination of the nation, with clubs such as the New York Cosmos enjoying high attendances and fielding notable stars including Pelé.
Ultimately though the league over spent to attract these players, ultimately going out of business in 1984.
Pelé obviously never played on a team trying for promotion, and he didn’t play on a team even theoretically worried about relegation until after he had won two World Cups. Also, using “ultimately” twice in one sentence is pretty crappy writing.
Those aren’t the important points I wanted to make. Those are just me mocking how poorly this report was prepared. But there is actually one very important point this report missed.
While there has been great success in increasing the franchise fee for new (expansion) franchises, there is yet to be evidence of asset appreciation of existing US club soccer franchises, and the subsequent realisation of this value (and profit) through a sale.
In 1998, Phil Anschutz bought the LA Galaxy for $26 million, a tad over five times what Marc Rapaport and Danny Villanueva’s LA Soccer Partners paid to join MLS.
Los Angeles Soccer Partners, a group of a dozen or more investors led by investment banker Marc Rapaport, paid $5 million to bring the Galaxy into the league as one of 10 original MLS teams.
"My heart and my head are in different places," Rapaport said of the sale, adding that owning the Galaxy had been a positive experience.
"Our investors are happy, and the ones who have come to the games and gotten involved with the team I think share our emotional attachment to the team," he said.
"But at the end of the day, if we wanted Los Angeles' team to continue to grow and prosper, I think we needed to get it in deeper pockets. The team really needs to go to the next level. Sports is moving in the direction of large corporations and billion-dollar owners, and we're neither."
"No one ever went broke selling at a profit," MLS Commissioner Doug Logan said of the reasons behind the sale, adding that he thought it "was consistent with what I believe was Marc Rapaport's and his partners' investment strategy when they first got involved in soccer some three years ago."
This is not the important point I wanted to make either. This is me just gloating. This information isn’t on Wikipedia, and there are probably diehard Galaxy fans who don’t know that Anschutz was not the team’s original owner.
But it wasn’t no state secret either, and I wanted to get another good solid kick into DeloitteUK and its water carriers who for months tried to pretend that this termite mound was some kind of groundbreaking scholarship.
I'd forgotten about this. In the words of the late Jack Chick, HAW HAW HAW https://t.co/dn5S6lsRxl— Dan Loney (@DanLoney36) October 26, 2017
De Bontin was going to run for USSF President, by the way. Heck, he still might. Had Deloitte written a slightly better report, or even if Deloitte had kept it a secret, de Bontin might have used the report to justify attempting to impose promotion and relegation on American soccer. Heck, he or someone like him still might.
Okay, no, I probably would not have started a multi-part defense of the right of Major League Soccer to protect itself from people like Deloitte and de Bontin had I known that Anthony Precourt, with a considerable and underrated assist from his fellow owners, were planning to replace Columbus Crew Stadium with a Royal Shaft. If MLS is going to act like it’s the NFL, then it should have the NFL’s ability to laugh off stuff like this.
The NWSL doesn’t, though.
For those of you just joining us, the “W” in NWSL stands for “What the hell does this chart represent?”
On page 10, Deloitte informed us that:
As set out above, the main area of analysis for this report is the professional club soccer pyramid. The scope of this analysis is limited to the assessment of the men’s professional game, and does not consider current state or possible implications of open leagues on women’s soccer.
And this is the point I wanted to make. Why not?
Okay, I know why not. It would have been extra work on a subject Mr. Silva was not interested in and not paying to inform the public about. Silva doesn’t tell me how to spend my money, after all.
But really, why not? Wouldn’t the same array of logic and facts apply to a struggling women’s pyramid as well as a struggling men’s pyramid? Or is there something estrogenal that hinders promotion and relegation? Does promotion and relegation work only in proportion with the convexity of the contents of the players’ shorts?
These are not academic questions, although I phrased them rather snottily. Silva commissioned this report as a lead-up to taking the USSF to CAS Sport Court a few months later.
The complaint does not allow for the USSF, CONCACAF or FIFA to make exceptions for women’s leagues. Because, well, duh. Try writing a regulation that specifically discriminates by sex. You won’t be able to see the inside of the courtroom you’ve been hauled into for all the camera lights flashing in your face.
However, if Silva, Dennis Crowley and the NASL are Donald Trump, and the USSF is Kim Jong-un, then the NWSL is a McDonald’s in Seoul.
Is there a Nobel Prize for Metaphors? Because just give me the medal now.
Anyway. If the CAS ends up hammering the Fed and the Confed, then I have every confidence that the breathtakingly rich owners of Major League Soccer will respond according to their capabilities, limited only by what they deem appropriate. The earth shall be scorched, natch, but post-Precourt I care about that a great deal less than I did a couple of weeks ago.
The NWSL would have no recourse. The USSF runs the league and schedules the games. The NWSL may be the least independent league in the country. There would be no wiggle room – the NWSL would promote and relegate with either UWS or WPSL.
To my knowledge, nobody involved with any of those leagues has expressed any desire to promote and relegate with each other. It’s almost as if those leagues and those teams have their own agendas and goals that don’t need to be dictated from Chicago, let alone Zurich.
“So don’t promote amateur teams.” Very sensible, except I don’t think that’s what Dennis Crowley signed up when he added his team to the complaint. Remember, promotion and relegation is supposed to spur interest and investment. It’s supposed to help teams transition from amateur to professional. We can’t very well exclude the teams that would benefit the most, allegedly, now can we?
This pretty much sums up the spirit of blithe incuriosity around the entire project. All Silva wanted was to buy Deloitte’s name and attach it to “Promotion and relegation is good.” DeloitteUK answered the call as poorly and lazily as they could possibly have gotten away with, and Silva wasn’t even interested enough to proofread.
And it worked. For months afterward, the executive summary was cited as actual evidence everywhere from coaches’ conferences up to the Daily Telegraph. The executive summary didn’t stand up to scrutiny, but there must have been something behind it. A Big Four firm wouldn’t put their name and reputation on nonsense, would they?
In a just world, DeloitteUK would face significant consequences for this. I believe that’s why they waited months to release the full report, and to be honest I don’t understand why they ever released it. They must have assumed no one would actually bother to read the thing. They severely underestimated their unintentional comedy.
I, at least, consider the matter settled. A billionaire paid one of the largest accounting firms in the world to gather evidence for a popular and widely-held prejudice. And this is what they came up with. In the words of the philosopher Snider, if that’s your best, your best won’t do.
Aw, cheer up. Maybe the next billionaire will do better with the next international finance corporation. But for now, we’ll have to settle for dull, plain old ordinary facts. Bigfoot did not kill John Kennedy. Super Bowl XXVI was not played at Stonehenge. And promotion and relegation has nothing to offer American soccer.