Posting this before the 1 p.m. ET conference call about the new league. Will update throughout. (Beforehand, I’m putting “likely” if I think it’ll be answered; “unlikely” if I think it won’t be, etc.)
Post-conference update: Answers in bold.
The basics from the call:
Eight teams: Boston, New Jersey, Western New York, D.C., Chicago, Kansas City, Seattle, Portland
U.S. Soccer will run front office and fund up to 24 players. Canada will fund up 16. Mexico will fund up to 12.
Q: What’s the name of the new league?
Predicted likelihood of answer (PLOA): Likely
(Actual – Jack Bell question): No answer yet.
Q: Does the new league have sponsors? A TV deal?
PLOA: Somewhat likely for sponsors; less likely for TV.
(Actual – my question): Handshake agreement on sponsor; preliminary talks with TV partner.
Q: A team in Kansas City, one that isn’t affiliated with the energetic and effective Sporting KC ownership, and not one in L.A.? What, you guys all have frequent-flier miles on Southwest? Any response to Charlie Naimo’s statement on L.A. being excluded?
PLOA: Sunil will probably decline to answer that.
(Actual: Michael Lewis question SPECIFICALLY on L.A.): “Doubt it” was pretty much right. Gulati joked that he feels like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell having to answer why there’s no team in L.A.
(Actual: Scott French question on L.A.): There was interest from L.A. but they’re not in first group.
Q: Terry Foley tweeted that his group had everything lined up but wasn’t picked. Any response?PLOA: Likely a polite, non-committal one.
(Actual: Michael Lewis question NOT SPECIFICALLY on Foley or L.A.): They had independent financial reviews and other criteria.
Q: Why no Canadian team?
(Actual: Neil Davidson question): Having a full national teams would skew the competition. Canadian cities could be involved down the road but not yet. (Answer from CSA president)
Q: How committed is U.S. Soccer to this league?PLOA: It’ll be answered; not quite sure how.
(Actual: Bell and Jeff Carlisle questions): Funding the players and front office.
Q: How many U.S. national team players will be under contract with the federation and the league?
PLOA: Should get a ballpark answer at least.
(Actual: opening statements): Up to 24.
Q: Will other players be fully professional?
(Actual: Carlisle question): Some may have other jobs or grad school. Mike Stoller, the Boston Breakers partner representing the eight ownership groups, said they will have a professional environment.
Q: Is this a multiyear commitment?
(Actual: Jeff DiVeronica question): We’re not asking people to put three years of operating expenses in escrow or anything, but it’s a multiyear commitment.
Q: What made Portland interesting?
(Actual: Oregonian question): Timbers fan base, investors led by Paulson family.
Q: Uhhh … Seattle Sounders?
PLOA: Very diplomatic answer.
Q: At one point, it appeared that the USL would be heavily involved in the operations. Why did that change?
(Actual: Jeff Kassouf question): Some former USL teams involved. Sunil thanks USL staff.
Q: How much collaboration with MLS?
(Actual: Jonathan Tannenwald question): Soccer United Marketing, Soccer United Marketing, Don Garber, Soccer United Marketing, Dan Flynn, Soccer United Marketing.
Q: Salary cap?
(Actual: Kyle McCarthy question): “Certainly some guidelines.” Mentioned loose caps (or exceptions) from MLS and NBA.
Q: Hope Solo?
A: Next question.
Q: Hi, I haven’t read anything about women’s soccer in the last eight years. I was just wondering if Mia Hamm would be involved.
A: Mia is a wonderful ambassador for the game, etc., etc., what are you doing on this call?
Q: Mexico is involved. So will we have a team in Cancun?
A: No. Just players, no teams.
Q: Is Dan Borislow involved?
A: No. (I exchanged email with him. He’s skeptical of the league’s chance for success.)
ALSO ON THE NEW LEAGUE
Dan Borislow says he owns the Freedom name, and it would be an issue if other people started to use it.
Peter Wilt, who helped launch the Chicago Red Stars and put forth a proposed new business plan in December, had this to say: “More reasonable budgets mitigate the risk and provide a sensible baseline to build on. Federations subsidizing national team player compensation is a creative way to help keep expenses down and quality of play up. Across the board cost reductions will need to be implemented (relative to WPS costs) to reach the new budget targets however. While this new business model doesn’t assure breaking even, it does lessen the chances of losing significant sums and makes the business proposition more attractive, which should attract more investors in the future.”