Don Garber: MLS won't get promotion/relegation any time soon
MANCHESTER -- Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber on Wednesday denied MLS needs promotion and relegation to be "a proper league" and firmly believes that it will one day be a top league globally.
Garber feels that progress is being made at a remarkable rate and cited the fact that MLS franchises, which he claimed were worth nothing in 1999, are priced at over $100 million.
Yet he denied MLS needs promotion and relegation to be "a proper league" and ruled out introducing it in the near future.
"A real league in whose eyes?" he said at the Soccerex convention in Manchester. "We are a real league now, with real business, our games live on TV and live around the world. The question is will it be the Premier League? I don't have the answer to that.
"We play in a country where the major leagues are really successful. There is no promotion and relegation in hockey and basketball and they work really well. It is not happening in MLS any time soon."
Garber also believes that the MLS, which is turning 20 this year, is a division that will be around in 100 years' time -- because of the sensible way it has been planned and run -- although it still has a way to go to reach the European standards.
"Our vision goal is to be one of the top leagues in the world but it will be generations before we are literally playing at the level of the Premier League or the Bundesliga, but that is OK, we just want to be part of the conversation," he said.
"We have a structure that intrigues the rest of the world, the idea that owners can come together and be partners off the field and try and beat the heck out of each other on the field has worked really well in the U.S. in other sports to make some of the most valuable leagues in the world. It is attractive, it allows for some ability to plan and invest over a long period of time.
"How does America benefit? Massive investment in bricks and a league that will be around in 100 years from now. It has become more of a seller's market. There is more interest in investing in MLS than there are teams available.
"When I got into the league 16 years ago, we couldn't give a team away. That is a short time to go from zero to the last sale of more than $100m.
"It is still a league on the rise. We are not fully expanded. We have not fully worked out the right mix of players our clubs sign. The whole idea of academies didn't exist in the early days in MLS."