Is The MLS Becoming More Successful Or A Failing Business?

What exactly is the MLS?  

The Major League Soccer season is underway and there seems to be a bit of a difference between the league commissioner and one team owner about the financial health of the business. Atlanta owner Arthur Blank said the league is doing fine financially while the Commissioner Don Garber has painted a bleak financial picture. Blank stated that the league “has grown and yet maintained, I think, financial integrity and stability. Not all the clubs are profitable, but most are, and most are getting more profitable. I think the league continues to attract a higher level of investor that is willing to invest not only more money, but bring their business expertise, their sense of marketing and management to the league and to their own clubs, which is really good. I couldn’t be more excited about the direction of the league.”

But Garber isn’t even sure what type of a league the MLS should be. “Most teams are operating at a loss,” he said. “I need to convince our owners to make investments in the future of the league that will force them to operate at a loss. This is a labor of love. They are willing to run their businesses at a loss. They ultimately want to make a profit.” Garber, in 2019, said the league had to change its business model “We all need to get used to the fact that in the world of global soccer, players get sold. We have been buying for so long and as we’ve gone through the analysis, it’s hard to justify that investment and the investment that we have to make in player development. We’ve got to have something that turns this model around, or else it’s going to be unsustainable.” Blank and Garber are at odds. But Blank is also correct when he said the league is now getting different investors with really deep pockets including David Tepper in Charlotte and Ron Burkle in Sacramento. Is Major League Soccer, now with 30 active franchises, financially viable or not?