New York Cosmos fans are anxiously awaiting news regarding the future of their club. Interim boss Terry Byrne is due back from his visit with Sela Sport in London, hopefully with some clear marching orders and a handful of checks – none more important than the $210,000 check for the Cosmos Academy, now more than three months overdue.
Jack Bell of The New York Times, who has been spot on so far, reported yesterday that Seamus O’Brien of World Sport Group may be named the new head of the Cosmos organization. However, according to World Sport Group, the company has no involvement with the Cosmos and O’Brien will remain Chairman & CEO of the Singapore-based company he founded.
Though they did make a point of noting that they cannot comment on what O’Brien may do in his private affairs, which does leave the door open for his personal involvement with the Cosmos. But since World Sport Group has no offices or operations in the US, at least according to their Web site, it’s hard to imagine Sela Sport naming a Chairman & CEO who is based in Singapore and doing the job in addition to running “Asia’s leading sports marketing, media, and event management company.”
Of course, this is the New York Cosmos we’re talking about. So far, their moves have been anything but predictable. Again, I do hope their next move is to resolve their financial failure with the Cosmos Academy. They owe Blau-Weiss Gottschee $210,000, with another $250,000 due on New Year’s Day, as part of the sponsorship agreement that created the Cosmos Academy.
Earlier this week, having not heard anything from the Cosmos following Byrne’s meeting with the new owners, Gottschee officials informed the Cosmos Academy parents that they were reverting to the pay-for-play model they operated under prior to the Cosmos deal. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, as Gottschee had already warned parents shortly after filing suit against the Cosmos for breach of contract, but it remains the 800-pound thorn in the side of the Cosmos reputation, and a huge hurdle for the brand to overcome if it hopes to ever again be respected in the New York City soccer community.
“The Borough Boys are a supporters club whose main goal is to rally fans behind the idea of a professional soccer team in New York City. We have not strayed from that goal, and will continue to help and support whoever is serious about making that a reality,” explained Nick Laveglia, President of the Borough Boys. “We are still in contact with the Cosmos, who have always been professional to us, but we have made it clear that we are very upset with the fact that there are New York City children in limbo because of the Cosmos failure to fulfill its financial obligation to the Cosmos Academy. We hope that the new owners fulfill this obligation and we can get on with talking about an MLS team.”
“While it’s great that the new owners of the New York Cosmos seem to be taking a more active role, I’m not going to pull a Joe Paterno and ignore the fact that the organization has yet to fulfill their contractual obligations to BW Gottschee,” noted New York-based soccer writer Cesar Diaz, echoing the concern of the Borough Boys and other Cosmos fans.
The good news for Cosmos fans is that Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber spoke highly of the new Cosmos owners during his State of the League teleconference yesterday, Nov. 10, 2011. He said that league officials have met with them several times already and will do so again at the MLS Cup.
However, he was clear that there are still no frontrunners in the race for the 20th franchise in New York City. Instead of courting candidates, it appears MLS has taken the lead on securing a stadium, hiring a full-time person to coordinate the effort along with three outside consultants. And, frankly, I kind of like this “if you build it, they will come” approach to the 20th franchise.
Stay tuned, folks. This isn’t over yet.