In a report on ESPN Deportes yesterday (Spanish), Ignacio Suarez claimed that the time may be approaching where Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara will be forced to relinquish control of the club, presumably to the league, for failure to comply with basic expectations required of all clubs in MLS. Presumably, this includes the lack of a local TV deal for the team, something which has rankled fans all season and has been noted as a minimum requirement of all MLS teams.
Suarez also mentions that he has spoken with a sponsor who was evidently approached by Vergara or Chivas USA brass, asked for $1.5 million, with the express purpose of buying players with that money, then requiring said players to promote that company's products to the hilt. As Suarez explains, and it makes sense to me, this would essentially be a way to get sponsors to buy players without Vergara having to shell out of pocket, thereby reducing his investment burden. Again, this is just one report, but it certainly seems plausible, doesn't it?
Finally, Suarez presents a dire, if certainly predictable outcome for the seizure of the club by the league. If MLS do take the club over, they will likely turn around and sell the team to the highest and/or most sustainable bidder, one that could very likely cause the team to move away from Southern California. While it appears the 20th MLS franchise will be a new club in New York, meaning the Chivas USA option is most likely off the table in that situation, the potential sale of Chivas USA could be the entree to the league that clubs like Orlando City FC or the San Antonio Scorpions may jump at purchasing, in order to get that golden ticket to MLS.
If this is indeed the path Chivas USA will be going down, the future could be dire indeed for fans. It is clear Vergara has not been investing in the club, and if he refuses to comply with even minimum requirements, it is easy to see a breaking point on the horizon. But while Chivas USA's fans are continually maligned for following a team that struggles on and off the field, surely even the biggest haters have to feel a measure of sympathy for fans who support the team week after week, year after year, and see increasingly-diminishing returns.
Regardless, we'll keep our ear to the ground at let you know if more details emerge from this story.
Update, May 8, 2:05 pm: MLS Executive Vice President of Communications Dan Courtemanche categorically denied Suarez's report in a tweet to The Goat Parade:
@thegoatparade That report is incorrect. MLS remains supportive of Chivas USA's plans. The ESPN Deportes writer did not contact MLS.— Dan Courtemanche (@courtemancheMLS) May 8, 2013
Perhaps this, then, is a story that sounds plausible but may not actually have legs.
Hat tip to ELAC for originally directing my attention to this article.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!