Editor’s Note: A lot has been written about FC Cincinnati’s bid for MLS expansion. Many of those articles assume that expansion is inherently desirable and make little mention of possible risks involved in competing in the expansion race. While Orange & Blue press is clearly a supporter of #MLS2CINCY, I thought it was worthwhile to balance the conversation with the voice of a supporter who’s uncertain whether expansion, at the current pace and under the current conditions, is in the best long term interest of the club. He refers to himself as the Losantiville Firm, and submitted the following viewpoint to Orange and Blue Press which we are pleased to share.
You have been to the games and heard the attendance numbers, 15,000…20,000…even 30,000 fans screaming one thing in unison. We represent a teeming grass roots movement akin to Obama’s campaign that summed up a hive mindset with one phrase…“yes we can!” What is the slogan those 30,000 FC Cincinnati fans are screaming?
“MLS or Bust!”
As fans we want to take that next step. We will do whatever we can to make this club a success. Success is making it to MLS, right? Or could the pursuit of MLS be our downfall? Are we so quick to chase the MLS dream that we don’t see any inherent danger in the endeavor? What happens if FC Cincinnati spends all the money, meets every Don Garber sanctioned requirement and then…doesn’t get in? Would there be a point for having FC Cincinnati any longer? I say yes of course, but what irrevocable damage could be done by rushing to make such a speculative gamble?
Let’s take Sacramento Republic FC’s bid as a case study. If Sacramento has taught us anything, it is that we are relying on the fickle requirements of MLS, and they have all of the advantages in this negotiation. MLS has an excessive number of clubs interested in expansion. All of those clubs have strengths and deficiencies, but few have a more complete package than Sacramento. The fact that they have not yet been offered a spot, and have recently fallen from grace as the “expansion darling,” should give us pause.
By holding off on inviting Sacramento, MLS has shown they hold all the cards. We as supporters of the club should not make hitting MLS benchmarks our measurement of success. MLS is looking to advance their own interests with expansion. FC Cincinnati should look to advance its own interests first and foremost. They should do so in a controlled manner that may not include joining in MLS’s near term expansion. They should instead focus on their own infrastructure, financial goals, and carve out their own unique niche in the international soccer landscape.
By focusing on making ourselves a healthy and well rounded club, we stand to make a greater long term impact and create a more attractive club. With the current MLS TV deal coming up for renegotiation in 2022, we could position ourselves as a reliable and growing soccer market. By that time MLS may find fewer desirable expansion markets than what they currently have. Then again, the opportunity could be gone. So I say go for MLS, but I refuse to allow FC Cincinnati to risk failure, just to meet arbitrary benchmarks that may not be in our club’s best interest.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, different viewpoints and ongoing dialogue about what is in the best long term interest of FC Cincinnati is a recipe for a healthy supporters’ culture.