We interrupt this period of the World Cup to bring you news from one of the weirder, darker, lonelier little corners of the American soccer universe. No, not the Red Bulls’ trophy cabinet… worse.
That’s right, it’s the promotion-relegation (pro-rel) debate. For those of you lucky enough not to know what I am talking about, here’s a quick summary. There is a small, but obnoxiously noisy contingent who believe that MLS will never be a “serious” league until it instigated promotion and relegation between it and lower divisions. There are those who take this even further and say that the lack of pro/rel and the use of a salary cap is evidence of MLS being rigged either towards certain teams or (the most wacko theory) towards keeping soccer’s popularity tied down in the interest of the owners’ other business interests.
I disagree entirely with all of that, as I have said quite vocally for some time. Click the previous link for all my justifications, I’m not getting into it again.
But anyway, this weekend, Stefan Fatsis got the nerds into such a tizzy by writing:
This set off a pro/rel nerd feeding frenzy on Twitter as they imagined a world where MLS owners would, just for their Euro-poseur validation, single-handedly destroy their own business model and turn MLS franchise ownership from a fairly safe long-term growth bet into a hugely risky proposition for club owners.
But oh boy, were the nerds excited this weekend – even more excited than they were when they heard that Olivia Munn would be on the Daily Show. That’s a lot of nerd saliva slipping through their collective overbite.
Yet, as I’ve said time and time again, the EPL will get rid of promotion and relegation before MLS ever enacts it. Promotion and relegation decreases league and club stability which, if you’re dealing with a “growth” product such as American soccer, is just unnecessary risk not worth creating.
Despite the nerds’ protestations, that 25 years quote by Sunil Gulati means nothing. Here’s why. In 25 years, Sepp Blatter will be 99, Jack Warner will be 92, and even Mohammed Bin-Hammam will be 86. None of them will be around in any significant capacity. Who knows the hell FIFA, soccer, or sports in general will look like in 25 years? Will they care about MLS playing in warm weather? Will they care that MLS doesn’t use pro/rel? I doubt it, but who knows?
Gulati just gave a classic kick-the-can-down-the-road quote that doesn’t relate one iota to the reality of quote ever coming to pass. The only way Gulati could’ve sounded less sincere about the issue is if he had promised to appoint a “commission to study the matter.” And let me add, Gulati is dead right in doing nothing but mouthing meaningless words over the pro-rel issue.
There will never be promotion and relegation in American soccer nor shall there ever be. If that is simply too much for your finely-honed soccer sensibilities to allow you to support MLS and its clubs, than go back to playing Dungeons and Dragons, building Captain Kirk’s chair or whatever the hell you want to do. But please, for the sake of all the bar patrons you bore, web forums you insist on trolling, and journalists whose emails you fill with garbage, just shut the hell up.