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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

North American Leagues


Return of the New York Cosmos

The New York Cosmos were the star team of 1970s soccer in the United States, doing a great deal to spur interest in the game among the young.   In 1975 Pelé signed a contract with them said to be worth $4.75m, making him the highest-paid athlete in the world at the time.  

The squad was full of international greats such as Franz Beckenbauer who had led Germany to World Cup victory in 1974.   As many as 77,000 fans came to the Giants Stadium where the Cosmos played for a time.  Attendances fell when Pelé left in 1977 and eight years later the team was disbanded.

We have lift off Statesside

Leading football economics guru Stefan Szymanski, now working in the US, reckons that the vastly increased sum paid for Premier League television rights on the other side of the pond signals that soccer is about to take off big time there.   As he points out, the word 'soccer' was a word of English origin that was commonly used in the UK until the 1970s, in part to distinguish 'association' from 'rugby' football with just one word.

Chelsea or MLS?

22-year old Ohio native Katie Callaway will be with fellow Chelsea fans in a Chicago bar today to watch the final with Bayern Munich.   She fell in love with Chelsea on a family trip to Grand Cayman in 2006 and she will be wearing her David Luiz away shirt for the game.

The Beckham brand

I would be very pleased if a company I had a stake in made returns of 62.5 per cent.   But that was the profit made in 2010 by Beckham Brand, owned by David and Victoria Beckham to exploit the Beckham name.   Admittedly, sales were just £5.6m but they generated £3.5m in profits.

Bend it like Beckham

Perhaps in the past I have been too sceptical about the progress likely to be made by Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States.   Having lived and worked there, I was well aware how entrenched the major sports were.

Becks considers his options

David Beckham helped Los Angeles Galazy to a 2-1 semi-final win against the New York Red Bulls in the Major League Soccer (MLS) play-offs, putting his team in the Western Conference final.   But he is nearing the end of his five-year contract in the States and is considering his options.   He doesn't want to retire and Paris St. Germain as well as unnamed Premiership clubs have come calling.   Then there is the Olympics to look forward to where the British team is likely to made up of Becks and ten others.

Is Vancouver a soccer city?

Vancouver is one of my favourite cities, as it is for many people.  But is it a soccer city?  That question will be soon answered as the Vancouver Whitecaps join America's MLS as its new franchise in March.  That is in spite of the fact that last season they played in America's answer to the English conference.

In the heyday of the NASL the Whitecaps attracted big name players, among them Alan Ball, Terry Yorath and Peter Beardsley.  But when the league folded, they dropped down the pyramid to keep their name alive.

Only Three MLS Teams are Profitable

Only three of the teams in North America's Major League Soccer competition are profitable: Los Angeles Galaxy, FC Dallas and Toronto FC. The last club might seem surprising given that they have served up two seasons of last place soccer. But there are plenty of British expats in that part of Ontario who are hungry for live soccer. However, a local correspondent tells me their presence is not the main factor and the club is attracting a much younger demographic who have no experience of live football in Britain.