FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes MLS should eventually transition to the European calendar. This weekend's Nor'easter is just one example of why Blatter is off the mark, according to Kyle McCarthy.By Kyle McCarthy
Did Sepp Blatter hear the reports about the winter wonderland that engulfed the eastern seaboard this weekend?
Perhaps the Swiss supremo learned about the snow storm, covered his eyes with his hands and pretended not to see the mountain of white stuff spread throughout the northeast. After all, it wouldn't do much for one of his pet causes.
Blatter, the often-ridiculous FIFA chief, called for MLS to adopt a August-May schedule earlier this year. In June, if we're going for factual precision and optimal amusement.
“There is one big problem there and they know, the organizers know, that as long as you don't have your own stadia in the MLS, you have to use stadia from another sport, which is American football,” Blatter told the Associated Press during the Confederations Cup. “With the season played from March to October, you are not in the so-called good international season. The result is that you will not attract star players from Europe to play for only six or seven months, with the exceptional case of [David] Beckham.”
Notice that good ol' Becks factored into Blatter's thinking, while weather, in all of its snow-filled and rain-slicked glory, didn't quite manage to scrape its way onto the list.
Never fear though, the snow's easy to move about for those Saturday night fixtures in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Those cities, by the way, are digging out from a winter storm that dumped a foot or two in each location.
Sure, it was the light and fluffy stuff, easy to plow and shovel to safety somewhere away from the driveways, byways and highways. But there was lots of it and that sort of accumulation only moves anywhere so quickly.
So how does one winter snow storm make it perfectly clear the American top flight should keep its current schedule? Take this weekend as a cautionary tale without the financial consequences.
In this particular instance, it's about the snow. A freak confluence of frozen condensation incurred once or twice in a winter in these prolific amounts. Two to four games postponed, rescheduled for an inopportune time in midweek. Cost of doing business, Sepp might say as he points to the ravaged fixture lists in England, Italy and elsewhere this weekend.
More often, it's about anything but the snow. It's about the times when the weather forecasters think there might be snow or suggest that a cold front could sweep down from wherever cold fronts sweep down from to blanket the chosen area with a particularly frigid and gusty pocket of air. Occasionally, the talking heads are right. Sometimes, they are not. The difference at the turnstile is altogether unclear.
As a result of both situations, the bottom line gets whacked.
The postponements create more logistical hurdles. Stadiums and personnel to arrange, patrons to notify, television companies to assuage. On a Tuesday or a Wednesday, the visiting team will fly in quickly – on the league's dime, just like always – and play the match in front of a diminished crowd. Walk-up sales drop, concession and parking tallies plummet and the overall attendance plunges substantially.
The scares cause just as much harm. Maybe the additional travel costs aren't subtracted from the till and maybe the loss of a hundred fans here or a thousand spectators there won't cripple the bottom line. Doesn't matter. Every little bit helps, especially when the investor/operator also owns the venue.
Forget about trying to explain the logic of the current calendar in footballing terms to good ol' Sepp as a means of backing up the dollars and cents. Pointing to the Liverpool-Portsmouth game at the weekend and noting how players of a significantly higher caliber struggled to string four passes together on an icy surface wouldn't get you anywhere. Nor would making the inherently plausible argument that MLS needs a better on-field product to attract the type of following it desires. The correct argument, after all, isn't always the one worth making.
Instead, just tell Sepp that it's about the money. Then, maybe at long last, he'll understand the present setup perfectly.
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for
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