This afternoon I received the following message from the New York Cosmos:
“There has been a buyout at The New York Cosmos and management changes have taken place in various areas of our organization. This also results in a full restructure of both our business and staffing, which will continue to be assessed by the new leadership team that is expected to be appointed within the next 60 days. It is unequivocally the goal of the current ownership to become an MLS team in the most expedient manner possible, and decisions for the club will be made with this in mind.”
For those of you unaware of the shake-up, which is a common business term for everything from the dismissal of a select few to a full-on corporate gutting, have a look at the story I did on the departure of Cosmos Chairman & CEO Paul Kemsley.
I’ve always been somewhat amused by the actions of parent companies, those international corporations who make a habit of buying up other companies. You see, there’s always a reason they buy a particular company. It’s usually because that company has achieved something they were unable to. And yet, blind to the fact that there are certain factors about their own organization that have prevented them from achieving that particular success on their own, these companies always think that they are the smarter managers, and therefore insist on running the acquisition their way. Inevitably, things go bad. Mulitnational conglomerates don’t do well in the entreprenuuerial mindset, just as money managers tend not to do well in customer-service businesses.
Let’s hope this is not the case for the Cosmos, who appear to have been taken over by Sela Sport (again, for details on this Saudi agency, I refer you to our previous article). Most of Sela Sport’s marketing and management expertise has been in Saudi Arabia, where they are a well-connected and recognized entity. And even if they had significant experience with soccer clubs outside of the Kingdom, Major League Soccer is a different animal entirely. Just ask Kemsley, if you can find him.
What does this mean for the future of the Cosmos and their fans? I think the last line in the official statement is the one you should focus on: “It is unequivocally the goal of the current ownership to become an MLS team in the most expedient manner possible, and decisions for the club will be made with this in mind.” That’s a little more straightforward than “business as usual.” It sounds like these cats mean business. Good news for those who want to see a stadium built. Bad news for those still curious about which scarf will be sold.
While the statement did not include any details on these additional management changes, the Cosmos Web site has proven quite revealing. The reason Rick Parry wasn’t named Chairman & CEO? He’s now out of the picture as well – quite literally, having been removed from the Web site. Terry Byrne appears to be the only remaining member of the original board, retaining his title as Vice Chairman.
Executive Director Joe Fraga and Chief Marketing Officer Dan Cherry are both gone as well, at least according to the site. The backbone of the marketing communications team – Theresa Tran, Sofia Sanchez, and Chris Thomas – remains on-board, though one has to wonder if resumes aren’t being prepared in the wake of all these changes.
The best news for Cosmos fans is that the soccer side of the operation looks to be intact. Eric Cantona, Cobi Jones, and Gio Savarese remain on-board. As do the Cosmos Copa’s Spencer Dormitzer and Chris Noble.
I was delighted to see that International Ambassador Shep Messing also remains on the site, despite rampant rumors that he’s jumped ship to a competitior. That’s a big vote of confidence for the rattled organization.
To see who’s left, you can visit the streamlined Cosmos management page. It will be interesting to see if there are any additional dismissals or defections, not to mention some new faces from the still silent Sela Sport agency. Perhaps even others, as the phrase “most expedient manner possible” makes me suspect that there could be a merger of sorts in the works, bringing together the Cosmos organization with one or more of these mysterious bidders MLS Commissioner Don Garber keeps talking about.
Let’s hope so. Because “Twice in a Lifetime” can also refer to the club’s collapse as well.