The theme of promotion and relegation in MLS has been debated for decades. Fans, pundits and league officials have discussed the subject relentlessly. In recent years, league commissioner Don Garber has addressed the idea several times. The subject keeps coming up. This week, Garber played with that idea again.
Commissioner says “never say never”
Talk with AthleticismGarber gave hope to those who want to see promotion and relegation in MLS. “You should never say never,” Garber said. “I have been quite consistent on this point. We should not give up the courage to evolve over time.
“And as the league continues to grow and evolve, and our fan base and the market continues to grow and evolve, I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t think about new structures. I don’t see not how it works today, but I can’t look far enough into the future to say never.”
Asked how other leagues can go about promotion and relegation, Garber replied:
“They don’t have to build stadiums at their own expense and, if they don’t win, they suddenly have to play in another league,” he said. “And with no disrespect to any other league – I learned my lesson with comments I made about Chattanooga many years ago – there really isn’t a place today where you can have the economic environment to be able to sustain promotion and relegation. It might exist at some point in the future, perhaps long after I am no longer commissioner, but life is long.”
MLS vs promotion and relegation: Garber has always been undecided on the question
However, Garber has made similar claims before. In a 2009 interview, the commissioner said implementing the new structure would not work, but said it would be reviewed later.
“Unfortunately, our country does not currently have the infrastructure to support promotion/relegation.” declared Garber over ten years ago. “We will continue to monitor this, but it will probably be at least 10 years before promotion/relegation can be considered.”
Two years later, in 2011, Garber addressed the situation again. “(It’s not) going to happen anytime soon,” proclaimed Commissioner. “I think that would be an exciting thing for us to be able to achieve. But the structure of the American leagues is such that it is almost impossible to think about it any time soon.
“I think the rest of the football community finds it strange that all of a sudden the Vancouver Whitecaps appear in our league. We sell them an expansion team and all of a sudden they’re playing instead of progressing.
Although the promotion and relegation debate has been revisited for years, plans for a possible structural change have not really gained traction. Garber’s comments perhaps appease many football fans as they may believe that promotion/relegation will eventually happen. However, it seems very unlikely that MLS will make any changes while he is commissioner.
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