ATLANTA — Don Garber has been adamant in recent years about MLS becoming a “league of choice” that could retain its young stars.
On Friday, however, he revealed he has had a change of heart.
Garber conducted his annual State of the League address on Friday afternoon, and one of the things the commissioner talked about was how MLS needs to adopt an approach that sees its teams sell more of their youngsters in order to create more internal revenue. It is a strategy used by many if not most leagues and teams around the world, but one that MLS has been reluctant to take.
“We need to become more of a selling league,” said Garber. “As a person who has been selling this league for nearly 20 years, I’ve always believed that you needed to have the players that resonated in your market to be those that can be aspirations for young kids who are peaking through the fence when they see them train. We all need to get used to the fact that in the world of global soccer players get sold.”
Garber’s comments come in the wake of a season that has seen promising young stars like Alphonso Davies of the Vancouver Whitecaps sold to European clubs for a significant profit. Garber believes that MLS and its clubs will benefit greatly if moves like Davies transferring to Bayern Munich become more of a trend instead of rare exceptions.
In fact, Garber even made a point to say that failing to move in that direction could result in the league’s demise.
“We have been buying for so long and, as we’ve gone through the analysis, it’s hard to justify that investment and the investment that we have to make in player development,” said Garber. “We’ve got to have something that turns this model around or else it’s going to be unsustainable, so when I see Alphonso Davies get sold for what could be $22 million that’s a positive thing for the league.
“Now (Vancouver Whitecaps owner) Greg Kerfoot and his club need to use that money to bring somebody in that’s going to be as exciting as Alphonso and that’s what happens around the world and that’s what our teams are going to need to do.”