NEW YORK: Major League Soccer has detailed its plan for awarding four new expansion franchises, with the fee for securing a spot in the North American league set to rise to $150m (€144m).
MLS is seeking to add two new teams by the 2020 season and prospective franchises have until January 31 to submit applications. A further two clubs will be added at a later date, with the four franchises taking the total number of MLS teams to 28.
After January 31, the MLS expansion committee, together with league commissioner Don Garber, will review expansion applications and conduct in-person meetings with potential owners and officials. The meetings will take place during the first and second quarters of 2017.
Teams 25 and 26 will then be announced during the second or third quarter of 2017. The timeline for selecting clubs 27 and 28 will be decided following the submission of applications. The fee for expansion teams 25 and 26 has been set at $150m, with the fee for teams 27 and 28 to be decided at a later date.
Applicants will submit documentation that provides a description of ownership structure and financial information, stadium plans and financial projections.
Twenty teams competed in MLS this year. That figure will rise to 22 in 2017 with the additions of Atlanta United and Minnesota United. Los Angeles FC will become the 23rd team in 2018. MLS said it is “making progress” with plans for a Miami-based expansion franchise, backed by a David Beckham-fronted ownership group, to become the league’s 24th team. Minnesota provided a $100m franchise fee for its team, while Toronto FC paid $10m for its entry in the 2007 season.
The league said that ownership groups from 10 markets have expressed an interest in securing an expansion franchise. They are: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.
“There is tremendous interest in professional soccer across the United States and Canada,” Garber said. “Since announcing plans to expand to 28 clubs late last year, many potential ownership groups have contacted us, and numerous public officials have stated their desire to bring an MLS expansion team to their city. We look forward to reviewing expansion applications in the coming months and conducting formal meetings in 2017 with possible team owners.”