Soccer Business Bits: NASL/USL Fight, ESPN Loves Soccer & More

We have not actively covered the NASL/USL/TOA dispute over the second division of American Soccer.  However, we do believe that it is definitely a subject of significant interest to American Soccer fans.  Lower division soccer aids in the development of American players, provides more exposure to the game in communities without MLS teams and provides the backdrop to Open Cup.  The ongoing dispute between the parties (which is now a lawsuit in Florida), will have a significant impact on the business of American soccer if the issues are not resolved.  We recommend MatchFit USA’s excellent coverage of this issue.   Also, check out this interview that I did with the good folks at the American Soccer Show about the legal issues involved in the dispute (once again putting on my lawyer hat for a few minutes).

In their most recent issue, the Sports Business Journal is reporting on ESPN’s substantial coverage of the World Cup.  According to SBJ, ESPN is actively working not only to interest viewers in the World Cup, but also its employees.  The World Wide Leader is assigning its employees a specific team to follow in order to raise interest among the mainstream sports fans that populate the company.  The article also describes the substantial commitment that ESPN has made to soccer, but also raises the fairly disappointing EPL TV ratings so far this year.  The article also noted that ESPN has sold 4 of its 8 major advertising slots for the Cup already.  Those 8 advertisers will account for 75% of the advertising during the ESPN broadcasts.

Finally, in a story that broke last week while we were out of action, it was announced that the Big East Conference has announced a three year deal to play the Big East Soccer Championship at Red Bull Arena.  It is great to see MLS teams partnering in this way with established college programs.  This quote from Erik Stover (courtesy of the Jersey Journal) suggests that the new Managing Director understands the importance of college soccer and of establishing relationships with non-MLS soccer organizations. “The Red Bulls organization is excited to bring the Big East Men’s Soccer Championship to Red Bull Arena.  One of our goals is to help elevate the sport of soccer in the United States and our partnership with the Big East Conference is an important step in that process.”