Leave it to Zlatan Ibrahimovich to say like no other, according to this tweet (ht to Daniel Workman):
Here’s the text, in case the tweet ever disappears:
When I asked Zlatan what it will take for MLS to achieve parity with Europe and South America, he responds with a question.
“Do they want to make it?”
“Who is ‘they’?”
“They that control it. The owners. Do they want it to be big?”
“Yeah. Of course.”
“Because you don’t make money in soccer,” he tells me. “In Europe, I can pick two clubs that make money. The rest don’t; they do it out of passion. Here, with the sports, you make money. That’s it. And I think with all the rules you have you are not boosting up soccer.”
“The budgeting things. The salary cap. You cannot bring in players you want. They have more rules here than I have in my home.”
The author of the book Soccernomics agree. They pick apart the bad economics of European clubs. I wrote about that here. They quote A.T. Kearney:
you could…argue that soccer clubs are nothing more than vessels for transporting soccer’s income to players.
European soccer clubs spend most of their revenue to buy the best talent they can afford to play the best football possible. This means the players receive most of soccer’s cash flow.
So, why would someone want to own a soccer club?
Passion is a piece. But, there’s more…People don’t get wealthy owning sports teams, even in the U.S. They get wealthy doing other things and then buy sports teams for status and to help grow their other businesses even more.
When your primary business sells concrete, it might give you a leg up if you can host potential customers in the owner’s box for a game.
So, why does the U.S. have the budgeting rules, as Zlatan calls it?
To keep a few passionate owners with deeper pockets from buying the best talent and dominating. League managers think fans of weaker teams will lose interest and stop spending money if their team doesn’t have a chance to win.
With the current pro leagues in the U.S., they may be right.