The signing of Clint Dempsey has accelerated the erosion of trust that North American soccer supporters have in MLS.
At least that’s what we can take from the results of a poll of The 11’s readership. We felt, as a Canadian site that mainly concerns itself with the state of the game north of the border, that it would be premature to pass judgment on the decision to bring Dempsey, an American soccer icon, back to the league. So, after the Dempsey deal was done, we took the pulse of our readers.
And the reaction to the Dempsey deal? Overwhelmingly negative. Dempsey was brought back to the league by MLS two weeks ago. To get Dempsey to Seattle, which wasn’t at the top of the allocation order, the league invoked a rule that isn’t printed. It said that Designated Players could skip the allocation process. The league was reported (CLICK HERE) to have spent the $9 million needed to satisfy Tottenham’s transfer-fee requirements.
According to the poll, fans feel that the Dempsey deal is an example of a league that doesn’t allow a level playing field for its member teams.
What should be concerning for MLS is that only 16 per cent of the respondents felt that the Dempsey deal was something that was palatable. Ten per cent chose the “MLS has to do whatever it can to attract marquee players option” while just six per cent thought “the deal was fair to all parties.”
What MLS needs to be concerned about is the growing perception that the league’s teams are part of a single entity but, to bastardize George Orwell, “all teams are equal, but some teams are more equal than others.”
Thirty-six per cent responded that they “don’t feel that MLS is fair to all teams,” and a significant 21 per cent checked off the “MLS=WWE option.” That means, in The 11’s readership community, one in five see Major League Soccer as a league that is rigged from headquarters down. The numbers of naysayers far outweigh the positives.
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