Discussion in 'MLS: Commissioner - You be The Don' started by Black Tide, Apr 13, 2012.
I hate that word, precisely because that question (do you want your playoffs to feel non-random) is a legit question. I think a lot of people feel the NHL playoffs are somewhat of a random outcome. Whether this is hurting the NHL is a different question.
Not a playoff. In fact, I have a feeling that if the BCS were a playoff of, say, even 4 teams just as arbitrarily chosen as the 2 it has now, most people would be contented.
So if a playoff can be random and not be a concern to Hockey fans, why must Soccer playoffs have an air of legitimacy to them to be successful?
Not to be Debbie Downer, but consider for a moment the approvals necessary to do this. At some point, some majority (or super majority) of MLS owners will have to give their assent to this.
Let's assume everything you say is true: Open promotion and relegation is more entertaining and the economics can be smoothed out so that relegation isn't a fiscal black hole.
Still, why would the MLS owners agree?
"So, you're saying we can sell NY2 for $100 million, or we can chuck it all and promote Charleston for a nominal license fee? And one of us can take their place because people express a preference for this? Seriously?"
Bob Kraft just collapsed in the corner.
Even if focus groups and polls showed a majority of MLS fans supported the change, I'm sure some of the BofG would argue it has a "New Coke" feeling to it. And they may well have a point. You're asking for a huge leap of faith from a lot of guys who are nervous about paying designated players.
Just imagine trying to get them comfortable with relegation.
What I'm saying is that I don't know whether it hurts hockey or not, or by how much, or whether or by how much it hurts soccer. I know that it's been noticed by most of the media that covers multiple sports--you hear things like 'all you need is a hot goalie' and 'home ice doesn't mean anything' all the time. I don't follow hockey that closely, not enough to know whether this holds the league back in any way. (And even if I did, it would probably be conjecture. I could speculate that Stanley Cup ratings are depressed by this phenomenon, but it would be hard to prove or disprove.) That's why I don't like the word 'legitimate.'
(The one difference I can think of between MLS and the NHL is that the former is always being compared to other leagues and the latter is not. That's probably why you hear the word '[il-]legitimate' being applied to the latter and not the former.)
I am saying that if it is a goal of your league to have playoffs that do not come off as a random outcome, then it limits your options: you can basically either invite fewer teams (like, say, the way baseball does), or stack the deck in favor of the higher seeds (as is done in football). If you do the latter, then after a while making the playoffs doesn't convince anyone you're a contender (which is is the generally case in the NBA for low playoff seeds).
But even if you don't care, there's still a theoretical limit to the number of contenders in a league. When a league grows past a certain point, the number of contenders doesn't follow apace, and what you're doing is creating more non-contenders. If one believes that the soul of the sport is contention, then you're diluting it at some point. Playoffs work well because they increase the number, but one way or another the rubber band is only going to stretch so far.
That's not what I was referring to there. My prediction was that it would not take a lifetime before MLS becomes 'financially mature', and player salaries become the dominant expense.
I appreciate the fact that owners seem unlikely to vote for such a measure in the foreseeable future (in fact, I can only see it coming to pass under some kind of outside pressure); the point I'm debating is about the economic viability of the idea in the United States.
What's worse being the joke of the league or actually winning something and bouncing back?
Again, assuming someone cared enough to exert that pressure, I think MLS could give as good as it would get (and the older and more financially powerful the league becomes, the better its ability to return fire).
It's hard for me to conceive of any scenario where the stick will be enough. They would need a very big carrot.
Just because you're watching, doesn't mean it's entertaining .... or do you get jollies from train wrecks ?
I don't find very many pro/rel champions that have any of the middle ground realistically covered. The vast majority of the arguments are merely assumptions or simply stating that something "could work" .... how's that any different ?
At least the crowd that isn't pimping pro/rel like the next APPLE stock are grounded in things that are concrete to the situation. The points of contention for this debate sit directly in the "now" of the league in every sense of the word.
The pro/rel crowd tends to be of the underpants gnome school of business:
1 - steal underpants (institute pro/rel)
2 - ??????
3 - profit
Until those question marks are filled out with tangible ideas backed by something more than opinion, conjecture, and things like "could possibly" describing the debate ... there's no need to get out of "how the league is now" for anyone that wants to debate against pro/rel supporters. The onus is on the pro/rel supporters to make the 2 part debate. ONE - the how of getting the league to where it needs to be and TWO - then getting the owners/players/league/fans/etc etc to buy it.
Facing the real possibility of your club being liquidated.
As a hockey fan, it seems ('seems' being entirely subjective) that US ratings are improved when Division Winners or the Presidents Trophy winner make the Cup final. The false premise of "you need two big American markets" to positively effect American television viewship seems disproved by the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, between Northeast Division Champion Boston and the Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver. I think a direct link between "legitimacy" and "viewership" can be drawn, and we will have a good barometer this year as a non-Division winner (NJ) could take the Wales and a warm-market team (LA or PHX) will win the Cambell Bowl. Of course, NYR won the East regular season, and PHX did win the Southwest Division, so a NYR/PHX finals wouldn't be the best analogue.
A very fair point. However, I seriously doubt the conclusion that there is a significant number of American Soccer fans, who watch the USMNT and some European League, who are inherently turned off MLS because of our League structure.
I think MLS' new playoff system is a good mix of Baseball and Football. Top seeds get a bye, and a (relatively, at least to the NHL and NBA) small number of teams make the tournament.
I agree, but I also agree that "contenders" have an inherent tipping point. The very fact that more teams make the NBA playoffs than don't make the playoffs keeps all but the dismally poor teams "in contention" well into the end of the season. That's a bad thing, and often mocked, but I still think I prefer that to a system (like La Liga) where all but 4 teams are eliminated from contention by September
If TFC were relegated down to D2, they would likely win more games next year and probably get promoted back up to D1 the year after. But that wouldn't fix TFC's internal issues and they would likely just be right back where they started.
But the bigger problem would be the massive financial hit the team would take as its fans abandoned the team in droves when it got relegated. TFC would likely survive relegation, but there are several teams in MLS that would not. Now, maybe 2-3 generations from now MLS teams will have the type of long-term fan support that would allow them to survive relegation, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
FYP, and it isn't any different. In the case of Toronto, it doesn't even qualify sensible speculation. It's one thing when you have a team whose economic base is not such that they should be competing with the top flight overspends to avoid relegation and goes down anyway; TFC are as far as can be from that. They've had low operating costs and high revenues for years, about as cushy a situation as one can ever find for oneself in sports. The thought that they'd liquidate based on a drop that might well be reversed in a year or two is pretty risible.
Your posting line here is just an intellectual defense of cherry-picking. 90% of BigSoccer discussions are probably moot, and it never does the discussion any favors to entertain only the weakest points of discussion. Even when you're right, you're right about something not worth arguing, and whose end result will only be to dumb down the discussion.
Well, except for the fact that every single example of pro/rel around the world gives us the basis for the quote I gave.
I'm not sure why you circled around to TFC because I was talking about the system, not a particular club. The attack has been on the "anti" pro/rel guys putting out bullet points with no substance. There's quite a bit of substance to "Facing the real possibility of your club being liquidated" as a bullet point against a pro/rel set up. That's merely all I was stating.
Probably true. The costs are probably something like people not being motivated to watch the Championship game, which needs to be something of a flagship to the TV contract if MLS is to expand its TV revenue. I also observe that the Colorado Rapids can't seem to get much mileage out of having been 2010 champions, not nearly the buy-in the Galaxy got out of theirs a year later.
I think it was definitely an improvement over the old playoffs. The percentage who qualify for them is about the same in MLS, the NHL, and the NBA, but the format by which they proceed is probably better than either (it will probably produce less random outcomes than the NHL, and while the NBA's results won't be very random, the entire first round of the playoffs seems like a waste in the NBA, at least in terms of declaring a champion).
It can be debated the extent to which that 'works'--first, because in the current playoff setup no team with a record worse than .550 or a seed lower than 6 has made the Finals, and second because one of the things you're hoping to accomplish by making the playoffs is to get the fans to buy in to the concept that you've had a good season, but for those teams that wind up in the 7th or 8th seed, they don't tend to do so. The first round series for those teams is not a great draw, at the gate or on TV compared to the regular season, and the teams don't follow it up with better numbers the following year. One gets the sense those teams are there just to fill out the bracket.
Without having supported it. Which is what you were complaining about in the first place.
Apparently you didn't trace where the comment you replied to came from.
Blackburn ... Portsmouth ... The Sheffield Clubs .... etc etc etc Hell, even Everton is in dire financial straights and they're not even close to relegation.
It has been supported thoroughly in these conversations.
WhiteStar's quote was a jab at the closed system (TFC being the example in either a closed or pro/rel system). I jabbed right back at pro/rel, as he is a pro/rel Bible thumper.
Soccer fans in America don't watch MLS because the quality of play is (actually or percieved to be) lower than what they'd like
I think the NBA has a playoffs that feel more pointless mainly because there can never be parity in that League. There's no such thing as parity in a sport where 2 players can take a team from the Draft Lottery to a Championship in one year's time (Woo! Go 2007-08 Celtics)
Which is ironic since he is the world's only NASL fanboy. Pro/rel would pretty much see the NASL tossed away like a dirty sock as MLS would set up their MLS2.
It has not, beyond some anecdotes, which wouldn't be good enough for you if they were on the other side. Nobody to my knowledge has ever looked at the actual rate, compared to the number of clubs there are, of actual liquidation as opposed to financial hard times (there are two clubs still alive in the NHL playoffs that are in one or another chapter of the bankruptcy code, and the NBA has a league-operated team because no one is willing to step up and own it), to determine what the real risk is in a relative sense. You've listed four examples here, three of whom are still playing. Wanna place a wager on how many of them are still playing 5 years from now?
Plus, it's not an honest comparison: what is the fate of teams in US markets that become truly, hopelessly outclassed? They move, as deathly a fate to their fans as liquidation would be, and far more deathly than relegation in and of itself.
Great, but it's dribbling through orange traffic cones.
Which is sort of a catch-22, because the reason the wages aren't higher is that people aren't watching on TV. But while perceived quality is certainly a driver of viewership, perceived importance of the game is as well. And while I don't think most fans overtly disputed MLS's claim that the 2010 Cup Final represented a 'true championship', I think a lot of fans didn't really buy into the whole playoff process having proven something about the teams, either, and they more or less passively ignored it.
Agreed. The ownership needs to, essentially, take another gamble and increase the salary cap so that the gap between DP-quality players and the other 8 guys out there is quite a bit smaller.
I doubt this to be the case, as well. This might be the "reason" that is given if asked, but what Soccer Fans (not Dynamo Fans or Chelsea Fans or USMNT Fans, but just 'Soccer Fans') want to see is high-quality play. MLS has the disadvantage of an average American consumer today having more access to quality play than, more or less, any other person that has ever lived on the face of the planet.
Real possibility of liquidation, is what I said.
That doesn't take away the fact that NUMEROUS clubs across ALL of the pro/rel leagues in the world have either ceased to exist or gone into administration and become a shell of their former selves. I only gave 4 examples because I didn't honestly think you'd need the laundry list simply to acknowledge the point I was making. Do I really need to do that for you ?
Do I really need to go on ? There's absolutely nothing anecdotal about this.
Moving might rip out the hearts of a fan base, but in terms of the club it isn't reshaped and reformed into something else in a much lower division. The original Quakes ended up in Houston as a first division team. Same ownership, coaches, players, etc. Ditto baseball, basketball, hockey, and football moves. It is not the same thing.
Most teams are from D6. You do know that last year 4 teams were liquidated in USLPRO and we don't have pro/rel.
That's fair. And, yes, MLS has contracted two teams and lost (if you believe them) $350 million in the first years of the league requiring AEG to essentially rescue it, so clearly it's possible to lose a boatload of money under either system.
But if you dig deeper, I suspect the causes may be subtly different. The early MLS failures and, perhaps, some of the lower division English clubs that entered administration, simply didn't have enough support to be viable. Here we are talking about what happens when an otherwise successful team sees it's revenue drop dramatically after relegation. Wild swings in revenue poses a different set of challenges, and if management isn't effective I do think a once profitable team can lose a lot of money.
Now, Stan's got a good point: when payroll constitutes 60% or more of a team's expenses and it's revenues drop sharply (as it does for relegated clubs), replacing high priced players with cheaper players should claw a team back towards the black.
In practice, it might not be that easy though. Some contracts are and would have to be guaranteed (DPs for example) and some teams (well done Newcastle United) elect to keep their high priced players to bounce back quickly to the higher division. They are, in effect, electing to lose money in the hope that they can more quickly restore their previous revenues. I've lost the link, but somewhere in these thousands of posts I included the results of a study that showed, in fact, may relegated teams did enter administration within a few years of the drop.
Yet, ironically, it's the irresponsible teams paying out a huge percentage of their turnover in wages that should have the greatest opportunity to quickly reduce costs to align with lower revenues reflective of a lower division. (There was some speculation on the Villa board that Randy Lerner may have hoped for just that). It's hard for me to feel too sorry for them if they foolishly plow ahead paying out more money to players then makes sense. But for teams that have invested in things like new stadiums (directly or via long term lease payments) and quality academies -- behaved in a way you would hope the league would encourage and reward -- they are stuck with many of those costs. And if those costs constitute a higher percentage of their expenses, it isn't easy to make the deep cuts needed to right-size the team's budget for a lower division.
So while relegation most certainly can be survived, it will, with equal certainty, test the mettle and acumen of the relegated. It's wrong to suggest the system doesn't present some unique financial challenges IMO.
I agree but I never said pro/rel through the whole pyramid, only if it was D1 and D2 first then after 10 years D3 and that's it.
Separate names with a comma.