The All-Encompassing Pro/Rel Thread on Soccer in the USA

Discussion in 'Soccer in the USA' started by bigredfutbol, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. owian

    owian Member+

    Liverpool FC, San Diego Loyal
    May 17, 2002
    San Diego
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It's not just pedantic. It's just not. Determining your league based on results is different. That's not just words on a contract or "the almost the same thing" Money plays a role but still making play on the field the determining factor still makes it sporting merit no matter how much you don't want it to be.

    It helps but I'd rather have a league with lower team valuations and pro/rel than what we have now. And I don't believe that a pro/rel league wouldn't work. Basically I don't think MLS is the only way we could have a professional league currently. Maybe In 1996 yeah I am with you but not in 2024.
     
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  2. CoachP365

    CoachP365 Member+

    Money Grab FC
    Apr 26, 2012
    Sure, and I'm betting there are many more soccer, cricket, rugby players in that pool than baseball or american football players, or even basketball and hockey players, where the North American based league is the destination for the worlds best
     
  3. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    United States
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    A gauge to measure what? How does Pierre Alexandra FC replacing L.A. Galaxy give us a gauge?

    And isn't Liga MX way more popular than any European League? If only there was some gauge for that.
     
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  4. psnotyours

    psnotyours Member

    Bvb
    United States
    Mar 8, 2023
    Why doesn't;t MLS do this?
     
  5. jaykoz3

    jaykoz3 Member+

    Dec 25, 2010
    Conshohocken, PA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    We'll never know the answer to this question: Would soccer be where it's at in in the US in 2024 without MLS starting up in 1996?

    Would the A-League have exploded in popularity instead had MLS not started up in 1996?

    For those of us who grew up in the late 80's and 90's...... Soccer wasn't on TV here in the states, or at best it was hardly ever on Television. Hell, the sport is still being denigrated by the country's biggest sports media personalities and outlets to some degree.

    I'd love to see Pro/Rel instituted into US Professional Soccer. However:

    [​IMG]

    That's UEFA fitting inside the USA with PLENTY of room to spare..... And that's just one of the challenges that will need to be overcome.
     
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  6. jaykoz3

    jaykoz3 Member+

    Dec 25, 2010
    Conshohocken, PA
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  7. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Right now, I'd argue that MLS expansion is still directly expanding the player pool by creating academies where they didn't exist before.

    There is a bit of temporary dilution from each expansion team because of the lag before its academy starts producing players. But I think actual dilution of the US talent pool only begins when we get to the level of saturation where creating a new academy mostly takes players away from other academies.
     
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  8. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    United States
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    MLS has expanded, it's cut its dependency on the draft, their main original source of talent, and yet the quality of play substantially has improved.

    If I look back at NYCFC 's debut line up from just 9 years ago it's Villa and a bunch of USL Championship quality players.

    Saunders, Brovsky, Wingert, Hernandez, Williams, Grabavoy, Diskerud, Jacobsen, Ballouchy, Nemec, Villa
     
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  9. owian

    owian Member+

    Liverpool FC, San Diego Loyal
    May 17, 2002
    San Diego
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Have the best players and teams playing each other more often (or playing at all) having a smaller more streamlined playoff while still allowing most of the clubs to be in the playoff hunt late in the season. I get that you don't think they are good reasons but they are reasons.

    I see the answer to this question have two parts. The first is trying to convince the owners the pro/rel is better than what they have. The second is trying to calm their fears and mitigate the risks.

    The first one is a little tough and takes some imagination but I would point to the ever expanding playoffs in American sports. Every single American league has recently expanded it's playoffs. The stated reason is to insure more teams have meaningful games later in the season. But expanding the playoffs comes with it's own issues. You make them longer and more complex, reduce the importance of the regular season and create a situation where the good teams have qualified for the playoffs even earlier. With the possible exception of the NFL I would argue that the playoffs have gotten worse as they expanded. This is 100% true of baseball.

    The leagues have felt pressure to insure more meaningful games though because of the competitive entertainment market. Just going to a game isn't enough people want to go to meaningful ones. The NBA is the most extreme expanding it's playoffs and creating the in season tournament.

    In terms of mitigation I wouldn't have it as an open Pyramid. Teams would still have to get an expansion spot. You could also still split the TV and league sponsorship revenue equally. MLS already has a salary cap so you don't need to worry about owners spending way over their income to gain promotion.

    Finally with the astronomical increase in expansion fees the franchises have become much more valuable (at least on paper) so the hit that they would take from relegation isn't as severe. I would argue most if not all (with the exception of SD) would see their values higher than their initial expansion fee, even if they are relegated.
     
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  10. Crawleybus

    Crawleybus Member+

    Oct 18, 2013
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    ? Because somebody has to finish top and somebody has to finish bottom, the ones that finish top are winners, the ones that finish bottom are losers. Reading are (currently) losers, the beauty of football means that clubs always get opportunities to turn themselves into winners.
     
  11. owian

    owian Member+

    Liverpool FC, San Diego Loyal
    May 17, 2002
    San Diego
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You are describing me. I grew up in the 80's watching Indoor Soccer and the 90's trying to figure out any way shape or form to watch games on TV. From watching them in Spanish to paying for US games on pay per to recording the one Champions League game a week ESPN would show on a VHS tape. So yes I remember how it was.

    Someone is going to have to explain to me how our nations size prohibits pro/rel. I don't mean this is a negative, I mean it as I just don't understand it. We already have two leagues that play a national schedule. So how would it be different for a team promotion up from USL-C to MLS? In both cases they have to fly across the country. Also we have the most sophisticated domestic air network in the world. Of all the challenges of implementing pro/rel (and there are a lot) I don't see the size of country being one. I mean hell the ACC and the Big 10 are now national conferences. If the University of Oregon Women's soccer team can travel to New Jersey, or the Stanford Volleyball team can travel to Miami then I don't think travel is a reason to not have pro/rel.

    Oh yeah the map you put up is of Western Europe. UEFA covers a much larger area all the way from Iceland to Kazakhstan.
     
  12. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It's the scaling problem, mostly. Clubs have to generate enough revenue to fund their own travel expenses. At the top and bottom of the pyramid it's relatively easy because the top gets a disproportionate share of the money, and the bottom has no expenses to speak of. In between, though, expenses and revenues don't scale up evenly. In a large country, you start incurring high travel costs well below the level that sells enough tickets to cover those costs. Note, for example, the geographic areas covered by some of the regional divisions in USL League Two and the NPSL.

    USL-C seems to be finally getting to the point where it might be able to fund national travel, but hasn't been there for long -- again, 2023 was the first season with a true national schedule.

    NCAA conference alignments aren't really relevant to this, because most of the teams are subsidized by football and basketball. From a logistics standpoint, they are well-funded multi-sport clubs that draw most of their revenue from the most popular sports. Stanford volleyball would never be able to generate the revenue on its own to travel to the East Coast, but it doesn't have to.
     
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  13. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    United States
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    At the moment it's sort of regionalized with 15 teams in each region and the occasional inter-regional match.

    No MLS employee is going to risk his career by doing that. The only people who are going to do that are external consultants. MLS isn't going to bring in consultants unless there's a business need.

    If you're an owner looking at the bottom line, teams aren't losing a lot of money; you have the 6th highest revenue of any soccer league in the world; you have 7 teams in the Forbes top 30, more than any other league in the world except the EPL and you have MLS teams knocking on the door of the Deloitte money league.

    In addition you have an expanded CONCACAF Cup featuring 10 MLS teams this season, guaranteed places at the expanded FIFA CWC and the Leagues Cup, which beat all expectations in 2023.

    In terms of American sports, Forbes ranks LAFC as more valuable than 11 NHL teams and they've even caught the Marlins.

    If you look overseas, the most valuable startup league in the world is the IPL, which is a closed league, with franchises, a salary cap and centrally administered player contracts.

    Compare that to systems with open pyramids where teams outside of 4 or 5 leagues perenially survive on the edge of a financial precipice. Teams regularly set budgets based on qualifying for Europe, or getting promoted or at the very least not being relegated. How illogical is that?

    But viewers like playoffs. People watch playoffs. If playoffs weren't marketable they wouldn't have them.

    Every year in MLS people say there are too many teams in the playoffs and currently I agree. But despite that, every year the playoffs are gripping and usually the top teams reach the later stages. I don't any MLS fan begrudged Columbus the MLS Cup decor the fact they finished third in their conference.

    So without an open pyramid what's the point? I thought pro-rel would make MLS more competitive and attract Eurosnobs. With a closed league people are still going to complain. Isn't the whole argument that because Bournemouth can be bankrolled into the play in the Premier League that Des Moines should be able to play in MLS? The whole #prorel4USA cult seems to be led by fans of Tulsa, Chattanooga and Detroit City, not Colorado Rapids, Minnesota United and Austin FC.

    But they've become astronomical because MLS is a closed league, with a salary cap and equally shared revenue. Why would they change to the financially failing European model?
     
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  14. An Unpaved Road

    An Unpaved Road Member+

    Mar 22, 2006
    Club:
    --other--
    Sporting merit and money are factors in promotion, yes.
     
  15. JasonMa

    JasonMa Member+

    Mar 20, 2000
    Arvada, CO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Right, I agree with all that. But why does the winning the season have to be accompanied by promotion and losing the season have to be accompanied by relegation? Isn't winning or losing the reward/punishment enough?
     
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  16. owian

    owian Member+

    Liverpool FC, San Diego Loyal
    May 17, 2002
    San Diego
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I still don't see how pro/rel impacts this? There is no rule that pro/rel leagues can't be regional. You might have to do some moving around of divisions/conferences to keep it regional but USL has had expansion/contraction pretty much every year of it's existence, and MLS has had 19 different seasons starting with a different number than they finished the last. So I am not sure maintaining consistent conferences or divisions is that important.

    It's a fair point about the football programs subsidizing but it's not like those are the only ones playing basically national schedules. University of San Diego, a non scholarship FCS school that had lower attendance than the Loyal at the same stadium, plays in the Pioneer League which stretches from California to Florida. And I know that it's not exactly the same but just to show that yes we're a big country but other sports still find ways to play teams across the country.
     
  17. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    United States
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I still don't see the point. If it's to get eyeballs on the league then I don't think relegation will help. How many people watch the EPL for the relegation battle? How many even know what La Liga teams are involved in the relegation battle? When the SPL splits how many people watch the Relegation group?

    What % of additional American sports fans do you think pro/rel will attract? And can ever-optimistic Americans deal psychologically with the drudgery of a relegation season?
     
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  18. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Of course they can be regional. But how big a region can you afford to travel across, on the revenue you generate at a particular level? That's where the scaling problem comes in. As you go up from one tier to the next in the US, the regions have to expand much faster than they do in European countries. Especially because we can't fill the five or six lower levels of pro clubs that would be necessary for more gradual steps between top-flight clubs criss-crossing a continent and semi-pro clubs that only make day trips by bus. As it is, when you get down to our fourth tier, it's already amateur, and some of the regional divisions already cover geographic areas the size of France and Germany combined.
     
  19. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #40269 Elninho, Feb 8, 2024
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2024
    USD is still a university with an annual budget of almost half a billion dollars a year.

    This actually brings us back to why team sports in the US developed around schools rather than clubs. It happened precisely because schools were often the largest organization in a town, and usually already had sports facilities for physical education. The barriers are much higher for sports clubs that have to sustain themselves on the revenue generated from sporting events alone.
     
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  20. Jeremy Goodwin

    Jeremy Goodwin Member+

    SSC Napoli
    Feb 16, 1999
    Club:
    Montreal Impact
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think that's a pretty clear no.

    MLS was supposed to start in 1995 on the heels of the world cup, APSL/A-League had their opportunity to capitalize on the gap, and instead of growing to 10 teams, they had three teams fold from 1994 to 1995 and could barely field a league, with only four US teams (two new for the season). Attendance was flat from 3,478 to 3,347.

    The year that they should have been getting a world cup bump, they could barely operate.
     
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  21. HailtotheKing

    HailtotheKing Member+

    San Antonio FC
    United States
    Dec 1, 2008
    TEXAS
    Club:
    San Antonio Scorpions FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Bingo, and we wouldn't reach "diluting" that at 30 or even 40 top tier clubs.

    You're trying to hard.
    Pointing to the handbook reason of "lowest points are relegated" and saying "based on sporting merit" while the other hand points to the debt load and inability to do anything about gaining points to avoid the "based on sporting merit" ... is being pedantic.

    But hey, Manson didn't kill anyone though right .....

    Honestly I don't think it is either. However, I do feel it is pretty telling that EVERYONE that is actually involved in the game (even the hot air pro/rel bros that own clubs) ALWAYS backs down when someone tries to do anything that isn't the model in place.

    NASL barked all day at MLS ... and shrank/shut down real quick when folks below them said "phuck yeah let's do this"

    USL has bandied around the topic for forever and even got to the point of voting on something that remotely had to do with p/r and the event turned into ... "woah woah woah wtf are we doing here"

    The biggest loudmouth of all put out a fake "bid" on media rights during a time when he and everybody else knew there was no way it could even be looked at.

    NOBODY is ACTUALLY doing any WORK for p/r ... NOBODY. It's pretty damn telling that people involved, with skin, with money, and that are professionally existing within soccer in the US is doing a damn thing towards p/r. These are folks that are smarter and know more about this than any of us on here ... just saying.

    Because like with any business, there are rules and agreements and contracts and many variables that keep it from just "doing it"

    You have less of the best players with less top level teams
    You can toy with playoffs regardless of the number of teams, to get the desired effects

    For instance, NONE of the top 10 scorers in the Prem last year were from a team outside of the top 10 in the league ... while in MLS you had a player from the 13th and 15th best teams overall in the top 10. You had legit superstar players on the dead last team in the league/24th placed team/23rd placed team. That talent spread and depth isn't happening in 18-20 team leagues with pro/rel. SURE, a player here and there but that ain't the same as some of the literal best players available being on some of your worst teams. You actually get a much higher concentration of talent and thinner spread of it ...

    And yet .... with MLB there's evidence that the efforts to have everyone play each other and have "the stars seen by all" has actually hurt more than anything. Part of the big appeal was the regional aspect and then the big national showcase of the post-season.

    Do the ratings/viewers match this assertion (both regular season and post-season)? The original MLB wild-card expansion was a HUGE success btw.

    If you actually dive into it all it's the changes in how people consume their entertainment, period. Nothing about meaningful games. It's the fractured nature and diminished attention span/give a shit of viewers that is causing the issues with sports as a tv property. Baseball tried to address that with the balanced schedule and effort to truly be national in it's reach ... and it didn't exactly help.

    How do you address the major vs minor aspect of sporting thought here? If it isn't top tier then it isn't top tier.

    Well you've said it yourself, that due to there being no p/r we have these valuations. The moment p/r is introduced, they vanish and are remade. How can they only be this high due to NO pro/rel but then would be fine if relegated due to said value, and then actually end up valued higher because of pro/rel even though it was only that high because of no pro/rel ....

    ... seriously?

    and the travel issue HAS been pointed out to you .... and there were even citations provided with USL folks talking about travel literally being a concern. Stop pretending like it isn't a thing.
     
  22. Crawleybus

    Crawleybus Member+

    Oct 18, 2013
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    #40272 Crawleybus, Feb 8, 2024
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2024
    Without it how would clubs (like Brighton for example, or Wrexham if you like) ever have the chance to become Champions of England or play European football? There is NO doubt that promotion and relegation increases the emotions of the clubs and its fans involved. back in 81-82 Chelsea spent nearly all of the season in the promotion places only to fall off the pace over the last couple of match days..................believe me the pain of finishing 4th in tier 2 that year was INCREDIBLY more heightened by missing out on top 3 than it would have been just finishing 4th in a minor division that you're destined to play in for eternity. finishing 4th from bottom a couple of seasons later wouldn't have resulted in the celebrations a couple of years later either.

    HOWEVER pro/rel obviously suits the 1 league system that England has, a system ideal for a country half the size of California, the US on the other hand has to implement a 'different' system because it 'does' sports differently and its a country the size of a whole Continent.
     
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  23. Paul Berry

    Paul Berry Member+

    Notts County and NYCFC
    United States
    Apr 18, 2015
    Nr Kingston NY
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #40273 Paul Berry, Feb 8, 2024
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2024
    Without $100 millions in investments in players, marketing, stadiums and buying TV slots A-League would have probably limped along like it had in the early 1990s, a niche sport for hardcore fans occasionally adding a gem like Seattle or Rochester, but losing teams along the way.

    In 1990 APSL started with 22 teams. By 1992 it was down to 5. In 1993 it would have been down to 4 if CSL hadn't collapsed and the 3 big Canadian cities were added.

    In 1994 they found Seattle. In 1996 Rochester came in with a bang and almost 10,000 fans per game but Atlanta struggled to complete their fixtures and New York folded at the end of the season.

    So what I predict would have happened is that if they were able to maintain a viable number of teams, every 3 or 4 seasons a Portland, Minnesota or Sacramento would have come along and they would have built something resembling NASL, 2011 NASL, not 1980 NASL.

    But if the 2002 World Cup and foreign teams were playing friendlies in front of packed houses it might have attracted big investors, and those investors would have been the likes of Hunt, Anschutz, Kraft and Kroenke and they would have had conditions. Closed league, salary cap, single-entity (a necessity after the player strikes of the early 1990s).

    So we would have been ten or fifteen years behind where we are now, particularly with regard to stadiums.

    Oh, and there was no pro-rel in A-League.
     
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  24. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The main reason MLS was more successful was its focus on laying the groundwork for the long term. It had owners who were willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in the short run in order to build soccer infrastructure and create a long-term market for domestic pro soccer.

    I wouldn't even say Rochester was nearly as big a success as it appeared at the time. The Rhinos were papering the house, it turned out. Over several years in the mid-'00s, their reported attendance dropped by more than half, but their paid attendance actually increased in that period.
     
  25. M

    M Member+

    Feb 18, 2000
    Via Ventisette
    Given that the USSF was in bed with a putative MLS at that point that is hardly a surprise. Why would anyone have invested in APSL at that point when they could see what the USSF was doing?
     
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