MLS's Garber hopes FIFA maintain hands-off approach to league

  • Football
  • Thursday, 10 Sep 2015

MLS commissioner Don Garber speaks about the state of the league at Google Offices. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports - RTX162PB

MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber hopes that the next leader of FIFA will allow the North American league to continue with its unique business structure and not force it to fall in line with other leagues.

   Unlike most football leagues, MLS does not have a system of promotion and relegation between divisions and the season runs from March to December rather than August to May as in many other countries.

    The league also has a ‘single entity’ business structure and only limited free agency for players who are out of contract.

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who will be replaced in a vote on Feb. 26, has largely kept away from interfering in the league’s structure and Garber hopes his successor will adopt a similar hands-off approach.

     “We are certainly hopeful that they will continue to allow us to do what we have done pretty effectively which is grow the game in our country in ways which have probably exceeded most people’s expectations,” he told reporters at the Soccerex Global Convention on Wednesday.

    “Part and parcel to that is that we are new to this, we don’t have 100 years of professional football history and we are competing against four other major (North American sports) leagues that have been around for 100 years and we are trying to do that in a way in which will ensure that the league will be around for a long period of time.

    “That involves a commitment to things which are core equities of ours which may or may not be part of other leagues. Competitive balance ensures some level of financial stability, it also allows you to create a fan base. In England you don’t have to worry about creating a fan base."

Garber added the severe winter conditions in the region has played a big part in how the schedule is set up.

“I would hope that those who are involved in governing the sport would say - we need to do things in ways that ensures it is all for the good of the game. I don’t know who we are harming?

    “Our calendar works for us because it would be really bad for our fans and players to play in February when it is 10 degrees and there is four feet of snow on the ground," he said.

"Who is that good for? 

    “Promotion-relegation would create a level of instability in our league in an immature market that could crater the very existence of our league - who is that good for?”

(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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