OK, I am going to get a bunch of hate from this but I love one deal and hate the other and I am probably the minority on both. Let's start with the news that was so impressive that MLS waited until SBJ published the news before they said anything:
Two weeks ago, Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer flew to Boston from Germany and joined Nilsson and David Baxter, Adidas America 's head of sport performance, for a meeting with Garber and Kathy Carter, Soccer United Marketing's executive vice president. What was supposed to be a two-hour meeting became a six-hour renegotiation session that resulted in the new deal.
Isn't it strange that such a super deal wasn't news two weeks ago when the deal was made? I am sorry but why exactly would MLS agree to extend a deal that had almost half of the deal left? I hear about players in other sports holding out for a new deal to get more money, but no indication that this was the case, so a deal that wasn't going to end until 2014 was done in a closed door meeting at least two years before any extension had to be done. Adidas claims it needs two years to design and produce MLS kits? Really, I thought they just took the old designs of other teams and applied new colors to them, or at least that is what it looks like in most cases.
I have stated for a long time that I think having "the Don" in charge of both MLS, and of SUM leads to conflicts of interest, and I think this is a classic case of that. Oh yeah the new deal will pay MLS 66% more than the current deal, but consider the real facts behind the new 8 year, 200 million dollar deal.
Consider the facts that when MLS signed the original 10 year deal in 2004 that MLS was a struggling league, and that getting some type of money into the coffers was an important step. However let's look at what has happened since then, sales of MLS merchandise have climbed 600% to over 300 million a year, there are now more teams in the league with more to come. So MLS has sold the rights to 2.4 billion dollars for less than 10% of the cut, and did so without any open bids? How exactly is this a great deal as some have proclaimed it? How much would the sale of MLS merchandise be if Adidas did more than just "mail it in"? How much would Nike have paid for the exclusive rights to MLS, and all the MLS related youth programs?
If the cost to buy a new franchise has changed from $10 million to $40 million in just 5 years, so why is it that the merchandise deal is only going up by 66%? I am sorry because I am a huge Adidas fan, in fact the only other soccer gear I buy is USMNT Nike gear, everything else is Adidas, and yes even with their lack of vision or creativity I buy a ton of stuff. I can only imagine what I would buy if Adidas had offered MLS half the variety that Nike had for US Soccer this year?
More after the jump:
So MLS Soccer announced the deal today after SBJ published the details in their online edition, and I thought of the vague statement on mlssoccer.com, that this was the most telling sign of what was really at the core of this:
In line with other recent initiatives by MLS, such as "Generation Adidas" and the newly expanded homegrown player rule, the new Adidas-MLS extension includes a specific focus on youth development. The major aim of this focus, according to league and corporate officials, is to help shape the future of the sport in North America. That future looks increasingly bright, as the game continues to progress, with increasing interest in the World Cup and the growth of MLS to 19 teams by 2012.
See this isn't just about the 300 million dollars a year in MLS gear that is sold, this is about getting Adidas into the youth ranks of soccer in the US. With an estimated 20,000 kids going to be involved in the MLS academy system at some level, that is a really nice market to secure now and for the future, and what better way to get themselves ingrained into the youth systems than to get a deal like this?
We all know that MLS is growing, and Adidas sat down at a table and offered up some cash and in what I believe to be typical "the Don" fashion he grabbed the money.
Now let me let you all in on another issue I have with this deal, it limits the choices and options of the clubs. Oh I know some of you are going to tell me that RSL begged for "Victory Gold" and Seattle pleaded with Adidas until they got "Electricity Yellow". Some of you clearly think that every team in MLS just made the choice to have the exact same designs for their scarfs this year:
The only two who benefited from this is Adidas, cause it is so easy when you have a forced contract with teams to simply tell them this is what you get and of course Ruffneck Scarves, who at least offer some variety.
I believe just like the teams have gone out and found jersey sponsors, well at least the clubs who have some level of engaged ownership who gets the sport and put some effort into it. That allowing each team the right to find a partner for their kits and merchandise would be a great thing for the teams that care enough to go out and get a great partner and for the fans who would then have some type of variety in what they are offered.
No instead we will get 8 more years of very mediocre products and selection and yes, I along with a lot of other fans will buy the stuff because we support our teams. But unlike past years, I have limited the amount of RSL Adidas gear I have bought this year and most of the time I have waited for deals to be offered, because the quality and variety simply haven't been there for the last 18 months.
OK, I will jump off that bandwagon, but trust me I will have plenty more to say about it as we see the product catalogs for 2011 that I imagine will offer us more cookie cutter options.
So this afternoon US Soccer announced that they had signed a 4 year extension of Bob Bradley's contract as the coach of US Soccer. I asked a few weeks ago, if not Bob then who? and in typical fashion most people offered up nothing for options. We all know about Jürgen Klinsmann, and I think he would have been spectacular as the head of US Soccer, but he wasn't going to settle for just being coach here, he didn't want to play the political game that comes along with it.
Oh there are a couple other names out there, but far too many people failed to see what Bob had accomplished in his 4 years. Most people want to look at the 38-21-8 and think the US could do better, and I agree but we played a much higher level of competition over the last 4 years than in the past. We won the Gold Cup in 2007, and almost won it in 2009 with a "C" squad for the USMNT, we won CONCACAF for the first time in ages, we won our group in the World Cup for the first time in 80 years, we made it to the final of the Confederations Cup (and almost won the final against Brazil).
Now I know that there have been a good number of mistakes made along the way, and I am sure Bob will be the first to admit it. So would you rather have a coach who is learning from those mistakes, or one who is brand new and most likely would make a number of the same ones over again.
I like the deal, I actually like Bob and while I may not agree with a lot of his decisions, I do think that he is a good coach who will get better over the next 4 years.
OK, feel free to offer up your opinions, I know that most of you will disagree with me on a lot of these issues and you have the right to do so.
OFF MY SOAPBOX