Chivas USA has no foundation

Posted on December 24, 2012 10:09 am

I’m pleased to announce we have a guest for today’s topic.  Here to discuss the future of Chivas USA with me is Dr. Hari Seldon, professor of mathematics at the University of Streeling.  Professor Seldon, thank you for joining us.

HS:  Your pleasure.

DL:  Thank you, I – huh?

HS:  I have read the materials you sent to me about Chivas USA.  Your conclusion that the team cannot win in the long term is correct.  Obvious, and childishly presented, but correct.

DL:  Thank you, I – huh?

HS:  Unless Guadalajara is overwhelmingly successful in Liga MX and in Copa Libertadores, and perhaps even the Club World Cup, then any hope for Chivas USA to obtain sufficient resources to compete in MLS is doomed before it starts.  Guadalajara and Chivas USA cannot co-operate, and the situation is worsened by the illusion of co-operation.  Quality players are a finite resource.  Quality coaches are also finite.  Quality managers and administrators – again, there are limited numbers of these.  With Chivas, there are two mouths to feed, not one.  Guadalajara will always lay claim to the better players, coaches, and administrators.

DL:  But Chivas USA doesn’t have the burdens of a Mexican-only policy.  They can sign players from anywhere.

HS:  A superficially good point, but it shows shallow thinking.

DL:  Thank you, I – huh?

HS:  The Mexican-only policy is a marketing tool.  It does not significantly affect the quality of play.  If Club America had established a subsidiary in MLS, they would have faced the same choices.  Quality personnel brought to one club is by necessity not given to the other.

DL: Couldn’t Jorge Vergara buy great, non-Mexican players for Chivas USA?

HS: Using money that could have been spent to improve Guadalajara?

DL:  Could they discover new talent?

HS: Yes, provided Vergara creates an international scouting system entirely from scratch, a system which by definition will not benefit the mother club.  Unless such an endeavor could be staffed entirely by volunteers, it will not be undertaken.

DL:  But Chivas USA’s youth system is the envy of the league.

HS:  Yes, and who will pay the salaries of these fine young players?  Assume for a moment their youth system turns out a star player every single year.  Eventually, those players will want to be paid a proper salary.  And even if they want to stay in the organization, the Mexican-American stars will be brought to Guadalajara to help the main team.

DL: So the Mexican identity strategy is bound to fail.

HS:  No.  All of their strategies are bound to fail.  What we are seeing with Chivas USA are two separate, but related, negative feedback cycles.  We have seen that Chivas USA’s successes will transferred abroad, while their failures will stay in Carson.  What we are seeing now is the second part of Chivas USA’s destructive marketing cycle.

DL:  Which is?

HS:  Don’t interrupt me.  Step one, Chivas enters MLS promising to provide Mexican skill and talent.  Fourth-rate Mexican talent from whatever Guadalajara feels it can spare loses all the time, and the target audience distances itself from the embarrassment.  Step two, Chivas USA attempts a more inclusive, multi-national identity.  Whatever is left of their original target audience is alienated for years to come.  The new fans must make a conscious effort to avoid the associations of the parent brand – when expanding the parent brand was the original purpose of the club to begin with.  This is made worse by the presence of the other MLS team.

DL:  The Galaxy.

HS:  They hardly represent the entire galaxy.  In any case, the other team resists this attempt to drain their fanbase, and will make a significant response.

DL:  Like signing Beckham.

HS:  I see that “don’t interrupt me” are words that hold no meaning for you.

DL:  But couldn’t Chivas USA have signed a Beckham?

HS:  Any useful response would come at the cost of the Guadalajara club, and as such is impossible.  The marketing now becomes shrill and bitter, openly disparaging the other club for its wealth.

DL:  Pretty ironic, Chivas complaining about being outspent.

HS:  Silence.  The marketing centers around the club as a low-cost alternative to the other team.  Unsurprisingly, the low-cost alternative fails to make money.  The club now has fewer and fewer alternatives, and fewer and fewer resources to implement those alternatives.  After a year or two of stagnancy -

DL: Is that a word?  Shouldn’t it be “stagnation?”

HS: Yes, it’s a word, you twit.  In any case, the club spirals downward into crisis, and the Guadalajara ownership must decide whether to keep the club going.  Either Guadalajara admits defeat, or they try to implement the one advantage they feel they have.  Which is the Guadalajara identity.  And now we are back at step one.

DL: Can they rebrand, or move?

HS:  No.  Apart from admitting defeat, which the Guadalajara administration seems dead set against, all moving or rebranding would accomplish is to solve some marketing problems.  Even if Guadalajara were to actually buy the other team and close it down, the necessity to support Guadalajara first and foremost will always be there.  The MLS team will never be the top priority.

DL:  What if they build their own stadium?

HS:  ”Dear Chivas fans, we have decided to spend millions of US dollars to build a stadium, instead of buying players to get beyond the first round of Liga MX.”  I suppose they could build their own stadium, provided Jorge Vergara never wants to set foot in Mexico again.

DL:  So, they can’t move, they can’t stay, they can’t rebrand, and they can’t keep the name.

HS:  There is one solution, of course.  Promotion and relegation.

DL:  What?!

HS:  Promotion and relegation is the only viable option.  Not just for Chivas USA, but for MLS as well.  The thrill of relegation battles will make every game meaningful.

DL:  I thought you were a mathematics expert!  And Chivas fans aren’t Chivas fans because they worry about relegation every season, are they?

HS:  You see, true football fans -

DL:  Oh, for -we’re out of time.  Merry Christmas.

HS:  I realize the truth scares you, but-

DL:  AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!  GOOD NIGHT!

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