Major League Soccer Enacts Changes To Sponsorship Guidelines To Allow Gaming And Alcohol Sponsors.

By Kenneth Russo, June 26, 2019 –

In a major policy shift, Major League Soccer enacted changes to its commercial sponsorship guidelines. Under the changes adopted, the 26 clubs will be allowed to contract for shirt and stadium naming rights sponsorships with sports betting and liquor companies. Both of these types of entities can now be prominently displayed on the shirts of MLS clubs and also be considered as potential stadium naming rights sponsors. The sponsorship policy changes take effect immediately.

It is customary across the globe to have shirts and kits (uniforms) with corporate sponsors. In North America, the only sport outside of soccer to have any form of corporate uniform sponsorship is the NBA. The basketball league began sponsorship patches on the front of its teams’ uniforms in 2017, and the program has been regarded as a success for the teams.

Up until this past Wednesday, MLS Clubs were prohibited from doing business with gambling and spirits brands. However, beer and wine companies were not on the list of prohibited sponsors, and from a policy standpoint, the arbitrary line drawn on alcohol-related sponsors was likely hard to rationalise. However, allowing sponsorships from gambling companies represents a major policy shift, and a position very different from the other North American Professional sports leagues, who have gone out of their way over the years to disassociate themselves from sports wagering. (For years Las Vegas was even off limits as a potential home to a professional sports franchise due to its connections with legalised gambling.)

What is behind these changes? MLS views itself as an innovative, creative league. “We want to be viewed as a progressive league, and provide our clubs with an appropriate level of flexibility,” Carter Ladd, the league’s senior Vice President of Business Development, was quoted as saying. “We don’t want to be restrictive; we want to enable them in a positive way, and that’s why we’re taking this action… We strongly believe this is going to help drive new revenues.”

Activating sponsorship agreements with gambling and alcohol companies does have it challenges and sensitive points, in particular, marketing such products to children or the perception of same. For that reason, the revised guidelines have certain restrictions. MLS is taking steps to ensure all advertising by such sponsors is directed toward an “age-appropriate audience,” it said. For example, youth-sized replica shirts will not be allowed to have such sponsors; neither will the shirts of uniforms worn by clubs’ academy and youth players. Additionally, MLS will also restrict players under the age of 21 from appearing in any alcohol-related advertising or digital content, and no players are allowed to appear in sports betting-related marketing.

Ladd told Fortune Magazine recently that the league feels it is “uniquely positioned in the North American sports landscape” to benefit from changing attitudes – particularly toward sports gambling, which he noted has long “been embraced as part of the fabric of the game” in other countries.

Furthermore in May 2018, the United States Supreme Court in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 584 U.S. ____ (2018) overturned the federal ban on sports betting. Since then, 15 states and the District of Columbia have now authorised betting in some form, according to the American Gaming Association.

The sports betting market represents a two-pronged opportunity for MLS: as a revenue generator and as a fan engagement tool. The sports betting market is really in its infancy in the U.S., and MLS wants to be on the forefront of the potential creates. In March 2019, the league announced a multi-year deal with MGM Resorts that made MGM its first “official gaming partner,” The new MLS regulations make it easier for its teams to reach similar deals of their own.

It should be noted that MLS clubs will still be subject to their own states’ laws governing sports gambling. Another issue is the fact that sports betting is not legal in Canada, and this potentially complicates matters for the three Canada-based MLS clubs, including raising the question of whether a Canadian MLS team could have an American-based gambling sponsor.

For a list of the permissible types of activities the league’s new rules will allow, please link to: russo law and soccer: mls-sponsorship-guidelines/

One of the most distinctive activities that will be allowed by these rules changes is that MLS clubs are now allowed to establish in-stadium sports betting facilities, in connection with licensed gambling operators, in jurisdictions that permit such establishments. Washington, D.C. is one such place. Ted Leonsis, who owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals, plans to open such a facility within Capital One Arena, the downtown venue shared by both of his teams.

“Right now, we want to take advantage of the widespread legalization of sports betting in the U.S.,” Ladd said, adding that the league will “pursue best practices to protect the integrity of the game.”

Asked about MLS’s more accommodating stance toward spirits, Ladd pointed to data indicating that Americans’ tastes are drifting more toward liquor, which has steadily been taking market share from beer and wine. “Part of what drove our thinking is the research we did on where the [alcohol] industry is going,” he said. “As social mores change, there’s less of a line between beer and wine, and spirits.

MLS already has a league-wide sponsorship agreement in place with Heineken Beer. Ladd opined he anticipates the league’s new guidelines to “double, if not triple our revenues” from spirits sponsors, which he currently placed in the “seven-figure range.”

We should expect MLS clubs to start announcing new sports betting and liquor sponsorships before the end of this year.

Reports Emerge Of Second Player Signing by Inter Miami CF

Miami, Fla. (25 June 2019) – Kenneth Russo

A report broadcast today by Radio La Red AM 910 in Buenos Aires (Twitter @radiolared) states that Argentine club Estudiantes De La Plata are close to reaching an agreement with Inter Miami CF that will bring winger Matías Pellegrini to the new MLS club.

The deal is reportedly for $10 million USD. Pellegrini would leave Estudiantes in February 2020 in time to join the Rosa y Negra for their debut in MLS in March 2020. Club Estudiantes de La Plata would also receive 10 percent of any future transfer of the player by Inter Miami.

Neither club has made any comment about the alleged deal. This is the second reported transfer of a player to Inter Miami. Last Friday, TyC Sports reported that Inter Miami and Club Atlético Banfield had reached a deal for Julián Carranza.

Link to Story here.

Pellegrini, who turned 19 on March 11th, is a native of Magdalena, Argentina. His primary positions are as a left winger and centre forward. He was promoted to the first team in August 2018, having been part of Estudiantes’ reserve (U20) squad prior to that. His first goal as a professional cane against Boca Juniors. He has made 15 appearances for Estudiantes this season, with three goals and one assist. He has logged 1,053 minutes across all competitions (903’ in Primera División and 150’ in the Copa Libertadores).

Statistics from TransferMarkt.com

If true, and if the report from last Friday concerning attacker Julián Carranza’s transfer from CA Banfield is also accurate, then Inter will have spent $16 million USD to bring two young, talented and promising players from Argentina to Inter Miami. It’s a pretty strong statement about the club’s desire to make an immediate impact in MLS during the first season. It also mirrors the types of moves Sporting Director Paul McDonough made in his previous role with Atlanta United FC.

While there is no confirmation either of this transaction or Carranza’s, it is relevant to note that the summer transfer window in Argentina runs from July 3 to Sept. 24, 2019. Also, for MLS, the secondary transfer window is from July 9 to Aug. 7, 2019, and any deal, even if already agreed to, would generally not be announced until the window is open.

Here are clips from a recent game Pellegrini played for Estudiantes against Racing and a longer video featuring some of the player’s highlights from this season:

Update: Friday, July 12, 2019: Argentine sports media outlet TyC Sports continues to report that Pellegrini’s signing could be announced quickly and that the deal includes performance objectives that, if met, could make the deal worth $13 million dollars to Estudiantes de la Plata.

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Según un reporte ayer de TyC Sports (🇦🇷), Estudiantes de la Plata avanza con la multimillonaria venta de Matías Pellegrini al Inter de Miami, que quiere desembolsar millones de dólares para quedarse con él. El juvenil de 19 años del Pincharrata, con solamente 23 partidos en el primer equipo, no tardó en despertar el interés del fútbol del exterior, y Inter Miami estaba atento. El volante por izquierda podría dejarle al club cerca de 13 millones de dólares con su partida al nuevo equipo de la MLS, propiedad de David Beckham, que empieza en la cancha por primera vez la temporada que viene. Estudiantes y Inter Miami podría cerrarse en breve una operación que, con las variables por objetivos, se acercaría a los 13 millones de dólares. Quede sintonizado aquí y clique en el bio para más. | According to a report yesterday from Argentina, Estudiantes de La Plata are advancing on the multimillion dollar sale of Matías Pellegrini to Inter Miami CF, who are ready to spend millions in order to acquire him. The 19-year-old from Pincharrata has played only 23 games on the first team but hasn’t delayed in attracting the interests of those outside of his country, with Inter Miami being very attentive. The left-winger would be able to bring to Estudiantes around $13 million with his departure for the new MLS club co-owned by David Beckham that takes the pitch for the first time next season. Estudiantes and Inter Miami can shortly close a deal that, with performances incentives could approach $13 million USD. #transferencia #MLS #InterMiamiCF #comunicaciones #transfer #Estudiantes #Pellegrini #soccerbusiness

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© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Player 001? Report indicates Inter Miami CF and Club Atlético Banfield have agreed on transfer of promising striker.

Miami, Fla. (Saturday, June 22, 2019) –

According to Argentine Sports Network TyCSports, Inter Miami have agreed on a $6 Million USD deal with Club Atlético Banfield for striker Julián Carranza. The 19-year-old will join the Rosa y Negra for the 2020 season. If true, this would make him the first signing by the new Miami side. There has been no official word from Inter Miami as of the time of this writing.

The deal reportedly includes additional compensation to be paid by Inter should Carranza meet certain performance bonuses. Also included is a ten percent sell-on clause in the event of a future transfer.

There has been much anticipation that Inter Miami were close to making a first signing announcement. In recent weeks. seemingly every well-known player at the end of his contract or being discussed as a transfer target has been linked with Inter Miami. However, something about this report seems more likely to be true, considering Sporting Director Paul McDonough’s history in building the roster of Atlanta United FC, and insights he has shared regarding the anticipated presence of South American players on the Inter Miami roster. McDonough’s building of the Atlanta United roster set the trend for big money signings of both established players (ex. Pity Martinez) and young players with great potential (ex. Ezequiel Barco) from Argentina.

According to sources, Italian Serie A side Genoa were targeting Carranza, having also been in Argentina and negotiating to sign Pedro De La Vega from Lanús.

Here is a video from Youtube that shows some clips from Carranza’s 2018-2019 season with Banfield.

Carranza, who turned 19 in May, is in his second season as a professional. He joined the senior squad of Banfield in 2017. Since then, he has made 29 career appearances for them, scoring 8 goals. He has logged 1,871 minutes across all competitions. Carranza featured in two matches for the Argentina U17 team at the 2017 South American Championship in Chile, and has also trained with the U20 team.

Prior to playing as a professional with El Taladro, Carranza came through Banfield’s academy system. He would join Inter Miami at the end of 2019 in order to be ready for the Rosa y Negra’s inaugural season in MLS in March 2020.

For more statisitcs, follow this link: Players- Julián Carranza


© 2019 Russo Law & Soccer

Renovation Project at Estadio Anoeta In San Sebastián Nearing Completion. Read More: (EN/ES)

The popular Basque city of San Sebastián (Donostia) is well known for its world-class tourist attractions, from La Concha Beach to the Comb of the Wind sculpture to the International Film Festival. This rich culinary and cultural city will also soon have a completed renovation of its football stadium as well. La Liga club Real Sociedad is engaged in a redevelopment of its Estadio Anoeta which will transform it into one of the best venues in Spain.

Read more: https://kennethrusso.com/international-stadium-projects/

La ciudad de San Sebastián, en el país vasco es conocida por sus atracciones turísticas de clase mundial. Desde la playa de la Concha hasta el Peine del Viento o el Festival Internacional de Cine, la ciudad está considerada una de las más bellas de España. La remodelación de su estadio de Anoeta está destinada para crear uno de los mejores lugares de España, otro hito clave que atrae a los visitantes a la ciudad vasca.

Lee más: https://kennethrusso.com/international-stadium-projects/

“Queremos que el estadio sea atractivo no solo para un tipo de aficionado”, dijo el presidente del club, Jokin Aperribay. “No queremos que sea solo para los jóvenes, o solo para las personas mayores o solo para las familias, queremos que sea para todos”.

Chicago Fire and Village of Bridgeview Reach Agreement on Lease Buyout

Miami, Fla. June 4, 2019

The Chicago Fire will pay the Village of Bridgeview $60.5 million to break its SeatGeek Stadium lease, per a local report, paving the way for a move to Soldier Field in the short term — and a new home for the MLS team potentially down the road.

The Bridgeview Village Board unanimously agreed to the terms of a buyout of the lease yesterday, providing financial certainty to both the team and the village. Under the terms of the agreement, the Fire will pay $10 million upfront and the balance paid off over the next 15 years. In addition, the team will pay $5 million annually for the use of the stadium for practices. From the Des Plaines Valley News:

Mayor Steve Landek called the agreement “a fair deal for everybody.”

“We like to see the Fire unleash its potential out in the whole market. I think it’s good for the Fire. I think it’s good for Bridgeview. Most of all, it relieves any of our angst over the stadium debt.

“Sometimes, we live and die with the success of the Fire. If they have a good year, we have a good year. If they have a bad year, we all are suffering. This, I think, will be a good idea for everybody,” Landek said.

The agreement, according to Bridgeview officials, allows for SeatGeek Stadium debt to be paid off without the need for additional property taxes. In addition, there’s potentially more revenue down the road if the Fire develops a new stadium within 35 miles of SeatGeek Stadium.

For the Fire, the lease buyout frees the team to make both short-term and new long-term plans. Short term, the team is likely to commit to Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, until a new stadium is prepped. The former Michael Reese Hospital site on Lake Shore Drive, just south of McCormick Place, has been under city ownership since it was purchased as part of a failed bid for the 2016 Olympics. It has not been redeveloped thus far, but a new Fire stadium could be part of the solution. Chicago Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman, who is resigning from his post, mentioned a potential Fire stadium during an interview on Monday. However, he labeled it a “long-term idea” and cautioned that any future redevelopment of the site will be complex, likely requiring multiple uses. Sounds like the sort of large-scale development challenge MLS officials love.

The Fire has struggled at the gate in recent years. This season the Fire has drawn just 11,298 fans per match to date, last in the MLS.

Image courtesy Chicago Fire.