Archive for the ‘bad ideas’ tag
What is the “very aggressive and very different” plan the MLS owners have in store if the players go on strike on Monday?
DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION?
Now, maybe Dave Checketts is just talking to talk again. But, just in case he’s not, what could something “very aggressive and very different” mean?
- Replacement players? That’s surely aggressive, but it’s not “very different.” It’s been done before (in the NASL, the NFL and MLB), and it wasn’t as much fun as you might have been led to believe.
- I’m stuck for a realistic second option.
Don’t play? Suspend the entire season out of spite? Import entire teams from overseas? I’m honestly curious.
So let’s look at the question of replacement players for a moment. Could you find 288 guys who could play next weekend? Probably. They wouldn’t be MLS players (at least not front-line guys). It’s unlikely they’d be USSFD2 players, many of whom have jobs as that season is starting in less than a month. USL-2 (third division) guys might take a flier, I guess. Their league is not exactly the Ritz.
Would it be the “extra” guys MLS teams have been carrying in camp to this point (roster cutdown day was March 1, but they didn’t enforce it while negotiations were going on)? Those guys have at least been in camp, they’re not completely off the street, and they’re fit.
But what happens to them when all is said and done? Would they become pariahs like baseball players who crossed the 1995 picket line did?
Back in the winter of 2004-2005, when the US Soccer Federation was embroiled in a contract dispute with the men’s national team, they brought in some lower-level guys who would have actually played in a World Cup qualifier had a deal not been worked out. Luckily, it was.
But at the time, I asked a professional player I knew, a guy who had played for several years in MLS and other leagues and briefly for the national team, if he’d cross the line if asked. This was a guy who was a solid professional, but not a star by any means, and who was far closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
“No way,” he said. “And I wouldn’t want to be one of the guys who did.”
“Do you think the regular guys would take it out on him in training or a game?” I asked.
“I think he’d get his leg broken,” the player said.
I don’t know what this super-secret aggressive plan is, but I hope we don’t find out.
United Soccer Leagues announced today they’ll put an expansion team in Orlando, Florida for the 2011 season. USL (then the USISL) last had a team in the Central Florida city in 1997, the first year of the merged A-League, but the Orlando SunDogs went 12-16 and averaged 1,514 fans per game in the cavernous Citrus Bowl.
NASLnews.com, which posted this anonymous editorial excoriating USL for letting Steve Donner (whose past is checkered, to say the least) be president of the new team, later posted a series of Tweets following up on the official news:
@naslnews: The USL/Orlando release boldly proclaims USL-1 will return next season. So much for the USSF calming the rhetoric.
Actually, the release says “United Soccer Leagues is planning to re-establish the USL First Division in 2011.”
Which, you’re right, is so much bolder than the statement on the bottom of every NASL press release. But, hey, NASLNews.com is an “Independent News Site Covering the North American Soccer League1.” Okay, sure. (BTW, that release didn’t go out without USSF seeing it, I’m told.)
But that’s a digression. Clearly what USL hopes to do is bolster its roster of teams (they’ve already bolstered their front office, clearly in response to the concerns raised by the teams that broke away and caused all this ruckus in the first place) in hopes of getting to eight and gaining USSF sanction for 2011.
I can’t agree with this guy (“Bleacher Report.” Hah.) who says that Orlando should have an MLS team (there’s a reason they don’t have anything but the Magic…I mean, they don’t even have a WNBA team anymore2). I don’t know where they’re going to play (the Citrus Bowl is way too big…even UCF’s football stadium is probably too big.) I can’t come up with a really good reason why this should be successful (or why you’d put a guy in charge about whom you’re going to have to constantly answer some pretty tough questions). (Yes, I got federal stimulus funds to buy more parentheses.)
Donner’s currently running the Orlando Titans indoor lacrosse team (which moved from New York and is currently averaging 7,985 fans a game in a league that averaged 10k a game last year). He says they’ll use the same staff for both teams:
“We looked at several different options, including indoor soccer and hockey, but in the end, professional outdoor soccer made the most sense in terms of being able to utilize our staff on a year-round basis without a lot of overlap in the seasons.”
That’s nice in theory, but few have been able to pull it off. My man Peter Wilt has written that it’s tough to always have your staff in “operations mode” year-round, rather than giving them an actual off-season for planning and sales.
So, no, I’m not optimistic right now. I grew up in Florida and I’m not one of those who has the “pro sports won’t work in Florida, Florida fans suck” mantra on macro. I think it’s more about the particular market, the product and the people running it. But right now, I’d have to be convinced that this has a good shot of working.
1 – Clearly it’s not. A soccer executive friend of mine has a theory that someone employed by the NASL is behind it, which may or may not be true.
2 – I’m still waiting for the Orlando Sharks to come back. I was assured they’d be coming back. Really.
No, not really.
But if you’re so inclined, the United Football League (with or without Michael Vick) will be bringing it to you this fall. This four-team (cough cough) league will play a total of 12 games in seven weeks (hey, bye weeks! Good planning!) with teams in Orlando, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Only they’re going to play some games in other cities, too. Get your tickets now for Las Vegas against New York in Carson, California on November 20. Or Florida against New York in East Hartford, Connecticut on November 14! Hey, people in the actual cities WITH teams are barely going to be interested, good luck with neutral site games.
Seven of the 12 regular-season games are on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I know the NFL plays Thursday night games. I know college teams play midweek games in blatant money-grabs. But those are special events with established teams and leagues. I don’t see how they’re going to draw people to see second-tier supposed professional football mid-week, especially when the games are on TV and even first-tier professional football is better on TV. And at an average of $20 a ticket, how are they going to hit their $12-$20M salary cap? Not to mention their startup costs and the $20M training facility they’re building not far from here? Are Versus and HDNet just tossing silly money at them?
The UFL says its salaries will be “on a per game basis and will be typically higher than the NFL’s minimum salaries and practice squad salaries.” The NFL’s minimum salary for a player with no years of experience in 2009 is $310,000. Do the math.
The XFL lost, what, $40 million in a year’s time?
Again, I’m a sucker for alternative sports leagues, especially football. But this can’t possibly work.