Posted by: stan chelney | March 30, 2012

Luke Rodgers’ Visa Denial Should Hardly Come As A Surprise

ImageI love Luke Rodgers and I’m sorry to learn that his U.S. visa application has been denied by the Immigration Service.  Though information about the case is frustratingly scarce, Red Bulls General Manager Erik Soler has revealed in the past that the government learned of some information that was not disclosed on Luke’s first visa application.  Soler was vague about the nature of the omission but did indicate that it was not a police matter.  

If Luke in fact failed to disclose material information on his initial visa application, today’s news that his visa has been denied should not come as a great surprise.  The visa process relies on applicants’ statements to the government on any number of important issues.  The government does not have the resources to conduct detailed fact investigations into every applicant’s background.  They are forced to rely on the truthfulness of the information provided, and they impose severe sanctions for knowingly omitting material information.

Indeed, once a person has made a knowing misrepresentation on his or her immigration visa application, that person often becomes inadmissible into the U.S. for life.  That is a harsh result, to be sure, but it’s not hard to see why such a rule is necessary to protect our nation’s borders.  It is the only rule that would provide a sufficient deterrent to providing false information in an effort to gain entry into the country.

Like I said, I really like what Luke Rodgers brought to our club in 2011.  He was loads of fun to watch and sparked the Red Bulls unlike any other player we’ve seen in years.  But, if he knowingly misled the Immigration Service (as Soler suggests), his ban from the United States is the logical and expected outcome.  It is not the fault of the club and it is not the fault of the Immigration Service.   

Luke, thanks for your service to the club.  We wish you well.  

 

Posted by: stan chelney | April 29, 2011

And the winner is…

Thanks to everyone for your terrific emails. You’ve proposed some excellent ways to introduce your family, friends, and colleagues to the NY Red Bulls. After decades of frustration, we New York soccer fans now have access to a gorgeous soccer-specific facility showcasing one of the most talented clubs in the history of MLS. We should be packing Red Bull Arena to capacity every home match, rain or shine. Together, we can make Red Bull Arena every bit as electric a place to watch soccer as those artificial turf facilities in the Pacific Northwest!


The winning entry, from future lawyer Tom Osadnik, is posted below. See you at the stadium tomorrow!

—–

“It’s a simple thing: just a ball and a goal. But once every four years, that simple thing drastically changes the world.” Those words spoken by Bono in a 2006 commercial ring so true. The World Cup draws a global audience surpassing one billion people and is the pre-eminent sporting event. While the sport’s popularity has grown in the United States, it is still overshadowed by the “big four”. Unfortunately, it does seem that soccer gets its mention once every four years.

Many of America’s youth grow up playing the sport of soccer. Boys and girls run around soccer fields, competing on Sunday afternoons in October. So what happens? Why does the sport’s popularity dwindle as folks get older? It seems that once our youth reach adolescence, the pressures of college, extracurricular clubs, and part-time work opportunities mean that kids will abandon the pursuit of the sport. Those few that do exhibit athletic characteristics will pursue different sports, perhaps baseball or basketball, as these are heavily promoted and favored by the culture and the media.

The interest in soccer in the United States is obviously strong; the 1994 World Cup proved that, with record attendance and the establishment of a top-flight domestic league, Major League Soccer. Every summer, top European teams such as Manchester United come to the U.S. for pre-season tours. These games are typically sold out as Americans are eager to see the world’s best players take the pitch in-person. International friendlies at the New Meadowlands Stadium such as Brazil v. USA just after the World Cup drew a near-sellout crowd of 77,223. Last month’s Argentina v. USA was indeed a sellout crowd of 78,926. Clearly, the demand for competitve soccer, as well as the interest in the game is as strong as ever.

Unfortunately, this does not translate to the U.S. being a global power in the sport. While the national team has had success in 2002, reaching the quarterfinals, and taking second place at the 2009 Confederations Cup, there is still much more work to be done; certainly the resources are there. MLS is not England´s Premier League or Spanish´s La Liga, but is becoming a great league with each passing season.

It is critical that exposure to the sport is increased here at home. The proliferation of new teams such as Houston Dynamo in 2005, Seattle Sounders FC in 2009, Philadelphia Union in 2010, and Portland Timbers in 2011is a great thing. We need teams in new markets to increase the exposure to the sport. The proposed expansion to include the New York Cosmos in 2013 would be an added bonus. The U.S. hosting the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup is another step in the right direction and hopefully even casual fans will be exposed to the beautiful game. Following the tournament this summer will certainly be a respite for me, as I prepare for the New York bar exam. Hopefully, the U.S. will be able to emerge victorious, much like in 2007 and 2005.

I would use these tickets to take my dad to the game to take in my first game at Red Bull Arena. In keeping with the idea of exposing the sport to more and more people, I would pass along the two additional tickets for students at the Nicholas Copernicus Polish School in Mahwah, NJ. This is a Saturday-only school for students that live in the United States and want learn Polish history, geography and language. It’s obviously optional and requires a commitment from the students to wake-up early on Saturdays rather than sleeping in. My mother serves as Principal of this school and she’d choose the most deserving student to reward him or her for their hard work as the school year draws to a close. This would allow another family to share their experiences at an American soccer game with their set of friends and family.

I would use the opportunity to share my experiences with my own friends and colleagues; to describe the beautiful game, as it’s played and witnessed in person. Thanks to social networking tools, such as Facebook, I’d be able to communicate my experiences and post pictures of the beautiful pitch at the soccer-specific arena and to upload videos that capture the atmosphere of the stadium rocking thanks to the Empire Supporters Club and Viking Army.

———

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,
Tom Dominic Osadnik

Why am I giving away my seats for free?

I love soccer. I love the USA. I want the USA to love soccer.

Not that Americans don’t already love soccer. They do. A record number 160 million of us watched the 2010 World Cup. It’s true here in New York as well. Just ask the 80,000-plus people who turned up at the New Meadowlands to watch the US draw with Argentina on March 27.

Despite the obvious love for the sport, for years, we soccer fans in the New York area were out of luck for quality live soccer other than the occasional international match coming to town. We had no top flight soccer league from 1984 to 1996. Even after MLS started, it was tough to rally around the MetroStars, who played in a horrible venue, on turf that had football lines all over it. I still went to games, but something was definitely not right.

That all changed last year! We now have so many reasons to support pro soccer right in our own backyard. Seattle and Portland are nice places to visit, but there’s no reason they should set the standard for soccer support in America when we have so much more to offer the soccer fan right here in NY. I want to see Red Bull Arena packed to capacity every single week, starting with this Saturday’s match. The stronger we make our local market, the better off US soccer will be in the long run.

So, in the spirit of the Free Beer Movement (a fantastic idea, if I’ve ever heard one), I’m giving away my four fantastic seats in Section 125 to you, dear reader, so that you can see for yourself that we have top quality soccer here in New York right now!

So what’s so great about coming to a Red Bulls game?

Glad you asked.

The Ground: I don’t think there’s any doubt that we boast the nation’s top soccer stadium. If you are a soccer fan living in the New York metropolitan area and you have not been to Red Bull Arena, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit. Every time I set foot inside the stadium, I’m overcome with the pureness of the soccer experience that it provides.

The RBNY Nats: USMNT veterans Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore began their pro careers in New York, but if you want to watch them play for their present clubs, you better pack a suitcase, take some time off work, and fly to Europe. Luckily, you can watch Tim Ream and Juan Agudelo this weekend without a current passport.

The Supporters Groups: Singing, chanting, flares…. Supporters groups provide an atmosphere at a soccer match that is unlike any other sport. And we have three of the best here in New York.

The Blue Chips: If you haven’t heard by now that legendary striker Thierry Henry plays here in New York, nothing I say here is going to influence you. The guy is Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer. It’s worth a 20-minute PATH ride to watch him play. Achilles woes aside, he’s still got tons of class. Add in Rafa Marquez, Mexico’s national team captain and Henry’s former Barcelona teammate, and that’s two world-class players on the pitch on any given night.

The Team’s Form: The 2011 Red Bulls are probably the best MLS team ever assembled — definitely so “on paper.” The recent addition of perennial all-star Dwayne DeRosario to Henry, Marquez, Ream, Agudelo and a very solid supporting group of players makes this version of the team special. They play an attractive, possession style of soccer, which merely adds to the game day experience. I’m not promising a win on Saturday, but the Red Bulls did take their last two matches by a combined 7-0. Just saying.

Who is eligible for the tickets?

The tickets will go to the person who proposes the best way to use the seats to further the growth of U.S. soccer. I’m not asking you to build a soccer academy. Maybe you’ve been wanting to start a family tradition of going to soccer games with your dad, your brother, or your daughter, but haven’t had the opportunity to go until now? Maybe you have friends who are Knicks or Rangers fans that would make great candidates for US soccer fans? Be creative (but be honest) about how using the seats will make NY a stronger soccer town, and they’re yours!

Are you in? What do you need to do?

It’s easy:

1. Follow me on twitter @stanchelney. (And, while your at it, follow @juanagudelo17 so he can win his twitter battle with Teal Bunbury.)

2. Drop me an email at schelney@me.com between now and Friday morning at 11 am letting me know how you would use the seats to spread the word about the Red Bulls to new supporters. I’ll announce the winner and pass along the tickets on Friday afternoon.

And don’t worry, even if your entry is not selected, there are still good seats available for Saturday’s game here.

See you at Red Bull Arena and let’s go Red Bulls!

Yesterday, the High Court of Justice in London heard oral argument in the fierce legal battle arising out of the sale of Liverpool Football Club (“LFC”). The details of the Court’s judgment (the “Judgment”) largely have been misreported or over-simplified by the media, so this article will attempt to set the record straight.

Before getting to serious legal analysis, however, it is noteworthy that the London High Court essentially accused Hicks and Gillett of using foul play to obtain their Texas TRO enjoining the sale of the club. (The complicated background of this case is set forth here, but, in essence, LFC’s former-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. managed to obtain an emergency temporary restraining order (TRO) in Texas restraining the sale of LFC to New England Sports Ventures (“NESV”), owners of the Boston Red Sox, literally hours after the London High Court had denied them nearly identical relief. Although the London High Court ultimately entered an order compelling Hicks and Gillett to dissolve the Texas TRO, the fact that the Texas court granted such relief under those circumstances certainly raised eyebrows.)

Somebody’s Not Telling The Truth

The Judgment surmises that the Texas court only granted the TRO in the first place because it was seemingly unaware that the London High Court previously had denied Hicks and Gillett that relief. The Judgment states: “It is clear from the account of the proceedings in England . . . that the [Texas] Court was not told in [Hicks' and Gillett's Texas petition] that an application to restrain the sale had been made and refused in England. Judgment at ¶ 27. Indeed, the High Court wrote, “It now transpires that that the [Texas] Judge had asked why the application made in his court was not being made in England and was told by the attorney for the claimants that it had not been possible because ‘the courts were closed’ and that the plaintiffs ‘couldn’t reach the court for that relief.’” Id.

The London High Court gave the lawyers the benefit of the doubt and instead placed the blame for this misrepresentation squarely at the feet of Hicks and Gillett themselves:

“At a subsequent hearing, the plaintiffs’ attorney, on being questioned by the [Texas] Judge, answered, no doubt on the instructions of the former owners, that ‘under no circumstances have we ever sought the relief that was sought before this court. It has never been sought.’ It is tolerably plain that he had not been told by the former owners [Hicks and Gillett] that the application had been made and refused.” (Emphasis added.)

Unsurprisingly, the London High Court was not pleased with this situation, but found itself left without an explanation from Hicks and Gillett, although both had served witness statements for the purposes of yesterday’s hearing. Instead, Hicks’ and Gillett’s solicitor was left in the unfortunate position of explaining what had transpired. Luckily, he brought his tap shoes, explaining, among other things, that: no disrespect to the London High Court had been intended; Texas counsel was unaware that the prior application had been made and refused; and that Hicks and Gillett, while aware that the prior application had been made and refused, “did not appreciate the legal significance of what had happened in London.” Id. at 28.

Ultimately, the London High Court “[f]ound this second-hand explanation both difficult to understand and difficult to accept.” Id. at ¶ 29. Suffice it to say that Hicks’ and Gillett’s conduct surely will not help their cause (or case) in London’s High Court, which, as explained below, is where they must now proceed if they intend to pursue their damages lawsuit.

Legal Analysis: What Will Happen Next

Thus, we turn to the altogether more hum-drum legal analysis of the Judgment. The Judgment decides three pivotal issues that will dictate the nature of future litigation related to LFC:

(1) Whether Sir Martin Broughton (“Broughton”), LFC’s former chairman, and the Royal Bank of Scotland (“RBS”), which provided acquisition financing to Hicks and Gillett, would be able to pursue “negative declaratory relief” in the London High Court;

(2) Whether Hicks and Gillett will be able to sue RBS, Broughton and/or NESV, i.e., whether the anti-suit injunction prohibiting such litigation would be discharged or at least varied; and

(3) If Hicks and Gillett are permitted to file suit, where can they do so?

To the first question, the Judgment states that Broughton and RBS could pursue “negative declaratory relief.” Essentially, Broughton and RBS have been granted permission to seek declaratory judgment that, for example, Broughton is not liable to Hicks and Gillett with respect to his involvement in the sale of LFC and RBS did not engage in misconduct in connection with sale. Thus, Broughton and RBS, acting as plaintiffs, are seeking declarations to protect themselves from liability, whereas they ordinarily would be defendants with respect to the conduct at issue. (Under the ordinary course, Hicks and Gillett would be the plaintiffs, seeking declarations that Broughton and RBS did something wrong and thus should be liable.)

Acknowledging that negative declarations are “an unusual remedy insofar as they reverse the more usual roles of the parties[,]” the London High Court nevertheless exercised its discretion to permit Broughton and RBS to pursue such relief – a decision which it emphasized comports with the more modern, flexible approach in relation to the availability of negative declarations. Id. at 13-15.

Second, as has been widely reported, the London High Court declined Hicks’ and Gillett’s request to lift the ant-suit injunction altogether, but agreed to modify it such that Hicks and Gillett could pursue their claims in London. The London High Court explained that anti-suit injunctions are available under two circumstances: (i) where there is some legal or equitable right, such as an exclusive jurisdiction clause, for the proceedings to be brought in the London High Court, rather than in a foreign court and/or (ii) where it would be vexatious or oppressive for the proceedings to be pursued in a foreign jurisdiction. Id. at 15-16. The London High Court’s analysis suggests that both circumstances may exist here, but it focused on the fact that several of the underlying transaction documents, which are summarized in some detail in the Judgment, contain exclusive jurisdiction clauses specifying London and Wales.

Interestingly, the London High Court also surmised that any future litigation initiated by Hicks and Gillett would likely allege that RBS, Broughton, the other LFC directors and NESV entered into an unlawful conspiracy to exclude Hicks and Gillett from the sale process and to sell LFC at a below-market price. The London High Court commented that the true allegations would be “markedly less enthusiastic” than what has been reported in the media, id. at 12, though Hicks and Gillett supposedly have uncovered documentation confirming these allegations.

Third, the London High Court held that any proceedings initiated by Hicks and Gillett shall be initiated in London, not Texas or elsewhere, with one small caveat: pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a United States statute, the parties could apply to an American court to obtain evidence for use in any proceeding in London High Court. In response to a concern that § 1782 applications could be made ex parte (i.e. by one party, without the presence of the other party), the London High Court further imposed the requirement that any applications under §1782 be made with 7 days prior notice. Thus, for all intents and purposes, any legal proceedings initiated by Hicks and Gillett will play out in London High Court.

Conclusion

There is plenty of courtroom drama yet to play out regarding the fallout from the sale of LFC, albeit across the pond. Hicks and Gillett will undoubtedly now file an action seeking damages in London, a less familiar and less friendly forum than their home turf of Texas. For sure, neither they nor their lawyers can be particularly proud of the not-so-subtle accusations in the Judgment that Hicks and Gillett played fast-and-loose with the Texas court to obtain their TRO. That reputation will certainly precede them in the next phase of this compelling case, both in the High Court and in the court of public opinion.

By Stan Chelney and Ryan M. Philp

Posted by: stan chelney | February 16, 2011

London High Court To Determine Fate Of Liverpool Legal Battle

In October 2010, Liverpool Football Club (“LFC”), one of the world’s most storied professional soccer franchises, was the subject of a bitter, highly publicized legal tug-of-war, with two American ownership groups vying for control. The dispute pitted then owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. – former owners of the Texas Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, respectively – against Boston Red Sox owners New England Sports Ventures (“NESV”), which had launched a bid to take-over the English club for 300 million pounds (or approximately 476 million U.S. dollars). Raising fodder for legal scholars, the ensuing litigation unfolded in two disparate jurisdictions – the Royal Courts of Justice in London and Texas state court — with NESV ultimately winning decisively in London and assuming control of the club.

The legal wrangling does not end there, however. The parties stand poised to battle again tomorrow in London, with England’s High Court set to determine the fate of Hicks’ and Gillett’s $1.6 billion damages lawsuit in Texas.

From England, to Texas, and Back Again

The battle for control of LFC resembles an international litigation case study. In April 2010, Hicks and Gillett announced that they were offering LFC for sale — a development that delighted the legions of passionate LFC supporters, who blamed the owners for the glut of recent trophies in LFC’s display case.

By early October, several buyers, including NESV, had emerged, albeit with bids well below Hicks and Gillett’s valuation of the club. The exigency of the sale process intensified when negotiations deteriorated between Hicks and Gillett and the Royal Bank of Scotland (“RBS”), which had provided acquisition loans to Hicks and Gillett (through investment vehicles). RBS set a deadline of October 15, 2010 for repayment of Hicks’ and Gillett’s indebtedness, which had then ballooned to approximately $350 million pounds.

With the RBS deadline looming, a power struggle ensued between Hicks and Gillett and LFC’s Board of Directors. Following an October 5 Board meeting during which three of the Directors on LFC’s Board selected NESV as their preferred bidder over Hicks’ and Gillett’s dissent, Hicks and Gillett attempted to block the sale by passing a “special resolution” to replace two of the directors with friendly designees, including Hicks’ son.

Then the international legal whirlwind began.

On October 13, Hicks and Gillett and RBS sought competing relief in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. The court sided with RBS, paving the way for the completion of the sale to NESV. The court denied Hicks’ and Gillett’s application for an injunction restraining the sale, and granted RBS a mandatory injunction that reconstituted the LFC Board and reinstated the two deposed directors. The court reasoned that Hicks’ and Gillett’s “special resolution” constituted an unlawful act under the terms of Hicks and Gillett’s refinancing agreement with RBS.

Having been foiled in London, Hicks and Gillett quickly made their way across the pond to more familiar legal territory – Texas. There, Hicks and Gillett obtained a temporary restraining order against LFC’s Chairman, RBS and NESV that, in effect, blocked the sale from proceeding.

On October 14, RBS and the others responded by returning to the English courts, this time seeking a reportedly unusual remedy called an anti-suit injunction. Finding that Texas had no connection with the dispute and that Hicks and Gillett had acted unconscionably, the London High Court granted the anti-suit injunction, restraining Hicks and Gillett from pursuing or continuing legal proceedings in Texas or any other jurisdiction, and giving them until 1 p.m. (GMT) to comply with the order.

The next day, Hicks and Gillett agreed to dissolve the Texas restraining order, yet reportedly sought to engineer the sale of their interests to Mill Financial (“Mill”), a U.S.-based hedge fund with links to Hicks and Gillett, as part of a final (unsuccessful) effort to scupper the sale to NESV.

Ultimately, on October 15, NESV completed its acquisition of LFC.

The Next Chapter

The drama returns to London’s High Court tomorrow, when Hicks’ and Gillett’s legal team will seek to lift the anti-suit injunction so that they can pursue their damages claims in Texas. The odd couple of LFC fans and legal scholars will watch with interest.

Stay tuned.

Story By: Ryan M. Philp, contributing editor

Major League Soccer announced today that, effective immediately, each team will be allowed to sign a second Designated Player (DP) to its roster, and will also have the option to purchase a third DP slot.

The changes are designed to enable an influx of big-name international talent to MLS (potentially players like Barcelona’s Thierry Henry or Real Madrid’s Raul Gonzalez) while still permitting clubs to stay within the league cap for total salary expenditures, set at $2.55 million by the recently signed MLS collective bargaining agreement. The Designated Player Rule was first implemented in 2007 to allow MLS to sign David Beckham to a $6.5 million contract.

Under the new system, each DP will count as only $335,000 under his team’s salary cap — approximately 13% of the total budget for all player salaries for any given team. While the League would continue to sign the designated players in keeping with its “single entity” system, the part of the DP’s salary that falls outside of the team’s salary budget will be the financial responsibility of the club for which the DP will play. A team may reduce the charge of a DP against its salary cap with allocation funds, which MLS provides to teams based on their league position the prior season, transfers of players abroad, expansion or other circumstances.

Should a team desire to add a third DP slot, it may do so by paying $250,000 that will be divided evenly as allocation funds among the other MLS teams that do not have three designated players on their roster.

The initial window for MLS teams to acquire players under contract in other leagues concludes on April 15, 2010. A secondary registration period will occur immediately following the World Cup, from July 15 through August 14, 2010.

Posted by: stan chelney | March 10, 2010

MLS At A Crossroads Over Landon Donovan Contract

The ongoing debate concerning Landon Donovan’s future highlights that Major League Soccer stands at a crossroads with respect to its business model.

On the one hand, MLS has preached fiscal responsibility and the need to build a financially sustainable model for the league.  MLS’s insistence that player salaries must remain under control, to the exclusion of free agency, has caused friction in its current collective bargaining negotiations.  On the other hand, MLS is keen to hold on to star players such as Landon Donovan, even where it is evident that the player’s ability has outgrown MLS.  Donovan’s recent 10-week loan spell with English club Everton has proven beyond doubt that he is a capable player who fits in perfectly in a world-class league such as the English Premier League (EPL).  Yet, Donovan’s request that MLS extend his loan beyond the start of the upcoming MLS season has been met with resistance from the league and, in particular, from LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena.

Though MLS’s desire to keep one of its most dynamic and popular players is understandable, MLS would be well-advised to let Donovan go.  Not only should MLS extend Donovan’s loan through the conclusion of the EPL season, MLS should sell the player to the highest-bidding club for which Donovan agrees to play.

Doing so is fully consistent with MLS’s financially conservative business model.  The transfer fee for Donovan promises to be the highest ever paid for an MLS player. Whether MLS accepts Everton’s offer of £7 million or holds out for more money from bigger European clubs — Chelsea has reportedly offered £10 million — the financial windfall to the league resulting from Donovan’s sale will be significant.  MLS can use the funds to address concerns voiced by its other players that their salaries need to be increased, or it can apply more resources to grow the league’s brand domestically.

Allowing Donovan to transfer complements MLS’s sustainability model because it recognizes that, at least at present day, MLS is unable (and unwilling) to compete with established European clubs for the services of world-class players.  By design, rather, MLS currently strives to grow by developing more regional talent.  While MLS certainly seeks to enhance popularity and quality of play by bringing in designated players who earn considerably above the average MLS salary, those players are almost exclusively at the end of their international playing careers, and therefore, can no longer compete at the highest levels.  (David Beckham seems to be the sole outlier in that he is closest to the prime of his playing career, but the Beckham experiment has more to do with marketing and publicity than fiscal reality.)

Selling Donovan makes perfect sense even beyond immediate financial concerns. Throughout the world, soccer fans tend to support multiple clubs.  It is common for spectators to cheer on a super-club such as Manchester United or Real Madrid in the EPL or La Liga, respectively, and still turn out to support their local club, even if it plays in a vastly inferior league.  MLS can boost its own popularity by fostering a similar strategy at home.  Television coverage of international matches is available in the US at unprecedented levels, allowing soccer fans never-before-seen access to top leagues around the world. MLS only stands to gain if America’s brightest talents excel in those leagues.  Not only has Donovan’s recent loan created hundreds of new Everton fans in the United States, it has no doubt invigorated a wave of American soccer fans looking to attend games here at home.  Each such person represents a potential consumer of MLS this season.

Additionally, allowing former MLS stars such as Donovan (not to mention Dempsey, Altidore, and Holden) to move on to a respected league like the EPL enhances MLS’s image throughout the world, as well as in the United States.  The more that MLS players demonstrate that they can compete with the best players in the world, the higher MLS stock will rise.  The casual American soccer fan who may not have considered attending an MLS game previously will appreciate that MLS can offer a high quality soccer experience.

By the same token, the average quality of incoming American players to MLS can only improve if domestic youth players are motivated to stick with soccer as their sport of choice.  Watching their national heros experience success worldwide will motivate more of America’s youth to choose a career in soccer.   The net increase in talent can only inure to MLS’s benefit.

Finally, the excitement about Donovan’s recent success at Everton has placed MLS in a public relations quagmire.  Does MLS really want to be perceived as stunting the development of the US National Team’s brightest star on the eve of the World Cup?  Does MLS want to be seen by its own players as standing in the way of a golden opportunity overseas?  Whatever its reasons, the league must recognize that it is no different than the parent of an honor student whose hard work has paid off in a scholarship at a top-flight university located far from home.  No matter the separation anxiety it may feel, MLS must recognize that the right thing to do is to allow its brightest star to fulfill his potential abroad.

MLS has said time and again that it strives to build long-term success, not short-run gains.  The Landon Donovan situation affords MLS the perfect opportunity to further this long-term strategy.  Only by allowing Donovan to move away from MLS can the league truly maximize its future value and remain true to its own business model.

Posted by: stan chelney | March 8, 2010

Mediator Will Need To Bring Players Back To Reality

When mediator George Cohen sits down with representatives of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the players union this week, he will need to conduct at least three distinct negotiations.  He will, for sure, moderate a discussion between MLS and the players on sticking points pertaining to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), including guaranteed contracts and free agency.  But, of equal importance, he will need to convince each side to temper its own unrealistic expectations blocking the path to a deal.

For the league, this means understanding that the players will not agree to play this season under the terms of the current CBA, as the league has indicated it is ready to do.  On the union side, Mr. Cohen will need to convince the players that striking is not the only alternative at this point, notwithstanding the players’ apparent willingness to strike unless their demands are met.  Convincing the players will be the hard part. Read More…

Posted by: stan chelney | March 2, 2010

Seeing Red! Episode 2 Released


I spoke on Sunday, February 28 with Mark Fishkin, Nathaniel Baker and Dave Martinez at Seeing Red! The New York Soccer Roundup about the current state of the MLS collective bargaining negotiations.  Among the topics covered were the legal implications of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, factors weighing on a possible strike by the players, free agency from a historical viewpoint, and the MLS single entity structure.

Have a listen here.  The portion of the show dealing with the CBA begins at the 12:05 mark but I recommend the entire program for any fellow Red Bulls fans.

Agree or disagree with anything we said? Leave a comment below.

Posted by: stan chelney | February 26, 2010

Not Striking Was The Right Move For The Union, For Now At Least

The deadline to extend the MLS collective bargaining agreement (CBA) came and went on Thursday with no deal struck by the two sides.  The union declared that the old CBA is expired but indicated that it would continue negotiating with MLS.  The union also stated that players would continue working “for the time being” but would do so without a CBA and that “all options are being considered.”  The league answered in its own statement that it is prepared to start the season under the current CBA and pledged not to lock out the players.

Not striking was the right move for the players, at least in the short run, for a number of reasons. Read More…

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