I was planning for a Bits column tonight, but there was a rather dramatic piece of news in Major League Soccer on Thursday that dominated the headlines. MLS announced that it purchased the rights to Chivas USA from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes effective immediately. While Commissioner Garber would not state the price paid by the League, he suggested that fair market value was paid. Some have used the recent $35 million sale to Vergara for half the team as a guide, but $70 million seems like a high number for the struggling club.
Garber indicated that a re-brand would be coming and that MLS was looking for an ownership group that could bring a stadium deal for Chivas USA. He was adamant that the team would stay in Los Angeles and acknowledged that a new ownership group would likely not be found in 2014. The team has struggled almost since the beginning and a recently resolved lawsuit involving claims of bias and discrimination made national news when featured on 60 Minutes. For the last while, league officials had been working behind the scenes to try and improve the Club. Obviously, MLS felt compelled to take this dramatic step because those efforts weren’t succeeding.
Per the official press release, Mr. Vergara and Ms. Fuentes retain all branding and licensing rights to the Chivas name, however the league will continue to have rights to use the name during the transition, which will include the 2014 season. Garber also acknowledged that they will have one shot to get the re-brand correct. Some successful rebrands in MLS include Kansas City and Houston.
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