Looking Closer at Dempsey

big-seattleFrom the Wells Fargo deal, to the change in ownership in Columbus , to the expansion of expansion, to the Clint Dempsey signing, the past few days have been among the most important business days in league history.  Yet the Dempsey deal sits above the rest because of its visibility and general appeal (it is hard to argue that the inking of a long term deal with Wells Fargo doesn’t move all soccer fans).

Grant Wahl provided some great details about the Dempsey signing in his recent article for CNNsi.com.  According to Wahl, the league was a big player in paying the transfer to Tottenham and at one point offered to pay $10 million of a total $30 million offer to player and team.  According the Wahl article, he transfer fee for Tottenham would end up being $9 million, and Dempsey’s three-and-a-half year playing contract with Seattle would end up paying him a total of $24 million — or $6.86 million per year, breaking David Beckham’s MLS record salary of $6.5 million. (Keep in mind that Beckham also earned a percentage of ticket and jersey sales.)”

There is no doubt that the deal was a publicity boon for MLS.  Local and national outlets covered the story over multiple days.  ESPN featured the story through multiple venues, beaming the transfer tale into millions of homes.  Internationally the story also generated attention, as Dempsey is a recognizable name to fans of the game around the world.

There has also been some buzz that the deal will favorably impact negotiations on the next MLS television deal.  It seems unlikely that on signing will move the needle on a television deal (however prominent Dempsey is, he doesn’t have Beckham’s global appeal), but if such signings are a sign of the league’s future intentions with respect to player transfers, the league may generate sufficient buzz to significantly increase offers for rights fees.

Regardless, it is hard to argue that Dempsey will have some more immediate business impacts.  MLS has long sought to capture American soccer fans who focus on the EPL and USMNT but ignore the domestic league.  There are a number of nationally televised games involving the Sounders in the coming weeks; it will be interesting to see if Dempsey increases the ratings.


3 Responses

  1. Both Beckham and Henry were associated with attendance increases of about 1,200 per game (league wide). Considering these stars could only play in one game a weekend (or two a weekend after Henry’s arrival), I think there is something to the idea of general buzz bleeding over to attendance. Although, I admit some MLS staff did not expect to see the same effect with Dempsey. But I think if nothing else, the SEA excitement may lead the Sounders to uncover the top section for every game. It’s possible MLS could be pushing a 19k per game average going into TV contract negotiations, which would be a nice trend to sell.

    And it appears that MLS is banking on a solid World Cup run by USMNT, making some MLS players into household names with a tournament held in US friendly time zones. There is reason to be optimistic for the future. (in addition to those of us who would like an expansion team in their city)

  2. more than just a few…lol

    Sun, 08/25/2013 – 10:00 pm Seattle Sounders FC Portland Timbers ESPN2

    Sat, 09/07/2013 – 10:00 pm Seattle Sounders FC Chicago Fire NBCSN

    Fri, 09/13/2013 – 10:00 pm Seattle Sounders FC Real Salt Lake NBCSN

    Sat, 09/21/2013 – 10:30 pm LA Galaxy Seattle Sounders FC NBCSN

    Sun, 09/29/2013 – 9:00 pm Seattle Sounders FC New York Red Bulls ESPN

    Sat, 10/05/2013 – 10:00 pm Colorado Rapids Seattle Sounders FC NBCSN

    Sun, 10/13/2013 – 9:00 pm Portland Timbers Seattle Sounders FC ESPN

    Sat, 10/19/2013 – 4:00 pm FC Dallas Seattle Sounders FC NBCSN
    Sun, 10/27/2013 – 9:00 pm Seattle Sounders FC LA Galaxy ESPN

  3. So true. Honesty and everything recognized.

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