Major League Soccer created the “Designated Player Rule” to accomplish two missions.
Firstly, the league wished to increase the overall performance on the field and thereby generate greater respect for the MLS.
Secondly, the league wanted to sign some fairly well known players in an attempt at a marketing push with the purpose of generating greater revenues and attendances.
However the current use of said rule will not accomplish either task. Instead if teams follow in the example of the L.A. Galaxy, the entire league faces extinction.
First let’s consider the facts. The MLS does not run in the black, in other words, it loses money. Also, a number of teams either just built brand new stadiums are in the process of building new stadiums. The league also joined the new SuperLiga with Liga Mexicana, which will add additional travel expenses to the four MLS teams who participate in the tournament.
Second, one should consider the estimated worth of David Beckham. According to most sources David Beckham stands earn $250 Million over the next five years, in a league with a salary cap of approximately $2 Million. He will make over 100 times that of the rest his teammates combined.
Although not all of the $250 Million will be in salary, it is worthwhile to consider the fact that Liverpool FC, 2005 UEFA Champions, are currently being purchased by group in Dubai for $260 Million. There is simply no way that a retiree such as Beckham is worth the same out as team with such stars and young talents as Peter Crouch, Kyut, and Steven Gerrard.
Also, there is a cascade effect to analyze. It has already started in Dallas and New York. With the Galaxy signing Beckham, other teams will feel the pressure to make jumbo additions to their roster without considering the consequences. With a visit at https://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/the-best-blog-youre-not-reading-this-is-american-soccer/87164/, the pressure from the team members will be reduced. The playing of the games will under the guidelines and standards. The charges of playing the games will be great to know for participation in the leagues.
Earlier this winter, FC Dallas dropped long time defensive midfielder Simo Valakari, who was once a mainstay for the Finnish National Team. Valakari was kept on by Dallas under the salary cap, but now the team is looking to replace him with Edgar Davids for an estimated $2 Million a season.
Davids was removed from the Dutch National Team before World Cup 2006 and has spent the season at Tottenham on the bench. The one time European great enjoyed time at Ajax, Inter Milan, and Barcelona, but his career is clearly over.
Davids is simply not worth the $2 Million, and to make things worse for Dallas, he will not have the draw of a “David Beckham”. The average America does not know or care about most of the international super talents from the late ’90’s. Davids simply does not have the name or glamour of a “David Beckham”.
In other words, the money spent on Davids will have little or no return.
New York is expected to add Claudio Reyna and Ronald Waterreus to the Red Bull roster shortly. Reyna will make above salary cap despite the high probability that he will spend the season injured. Reyna has plenty of time on the side of the pitch these past two seasons with a variety of knocks.
Waterreus was once considered a top flight goalkeeper in Europe and played for the Dutch National Team. However, he has been replaced by Edwin Van Der Saar and seen little action as of late.
Also, Waterreus will be taking the one position which America seems to abound in talent. Goalkeeping has been an American specialty. Most of the goalkeepers in the league have caps with the U.S. National Team. Certainly, New York did not need to look overseas to find a goalie.
Again, Waterreus does not have the name of a “David Beckham”. The fans will not show up just to watch some Dutch goalkeeper.
Both New York and Dallas are paying the big bills on their soccer specific stadiums also. Combining the debt of the construction with the signings of the new arrivals will only put the teams further in the red.
Although the Galaxy, who are owned by Anschultz Entertainment Group, can certainly afford a heavy amount of debt, the privately held teams will likely flounder carrying that kind of debt. This is not to suggest that Red Bull can’t carry the debt, but if Kansas City, Salt Lake, D.C., or New England attempt to keep up with the Beckham signing, the league could certainly fold.
Talented players ready for retirement have come to the MLS before, but all played for far less money. Some of the biggest names to have played in the MLS include: Carlos Valderrama, Marco Etcheverry, Youri Djorkaeff, Aitor Karanka, Lothar Matthaus, Hristro Stoichkov, Piotr Nowak, Roberto Donadoni, Ramon Ramirez, and Igor Simultenkov. Most of whom came to the MLS in the twilight of their careers, like Beckham, but all of whom came for far less money.
There is simply no reason to pay retirees more $2 Million. It certainly doesn’t help the league earn international respect as many journalists claim.
The reality is that Beckham is a “has been”. Outside of his set pieces during World Cup 2006, his play was uninspired, and players like Cornell Glen and Avery John of Trinidad and Tobago looked sharper on the field and kept Beckham in check.
This rule could have been used to accomplish its goal by analyzing target markets around each team’s home stadium and signing players of good quality who aren’t quite super stars. In other words, players could have been signed on contracts, similar to those on “player allocations”, from the best of the Mexican, Costa Rican, Ecuadorian, Polish, and Scottish leagues.
For example, a team like Chicago, who has yet to use its Designated Player spot, could spend the money on a Grzegorz Rasiak. Rasiak is one of the better players for Poland and plays in the English Championship for Southampton. He is younger than Beckham and has 16 goals in 25 appearances for Southhampton this season. He would tap into the Chicago Polish market, increasing ticket sales as Piotr Nowak did when he played for the Fire, but Rasiak would not carry the price tag of a “Beckham”.
This strategy would have worked for a number of markets allowing them to sign talented young players from national teams in Asia, North and South America, and Eastern Europe. It might have also been used to attract some young Americans who are playing overseas like Jamil Fearrington, Benny Feilhaber, or Jeremiah White.
Sadly, it looks as though the MLS teams are prepared to repeat the mistakes of the NASL by overpaying players who are in need of retirement. The burden of paying large salaries in addition to the expenses of building the new stadiums could prove most hurtful to the young soccer league. The MLS teams may want to note that no one cared when Miami FC signed former Brazilian stars, Romario and Zinho.