Football clubs can vanish, we have seen it many times before and we will see it again. Usually this happens due to financial instability and liquidation however the MLS in America have set a new standard of making a football club disappear by announcing a decision to simply get rid of an entire team. Later on this week the governing body of the MLS will officially announce a new slot in their league setup for a team specifically based in Los Angeles, California. The league feels as though LA Galaxy holds too much of a monopoly in the City of Angels so have decided to award an additional ownership opportunity to interested parties (Cardiff’s Vincent Tan has already been linked to the future investment). With an urban area population of over 12 million people it probably makes sense to allow for an opportunity for another football team to have roots and develop alongside the Galaxy. However there is already another team based in the LA area.
Club Deportivo Chivas USA (or simply ‘Chivas’) have operated in Los Angeles since 2004 as a ‘little brother’ to Mexican side C.D. Guadalajara but as of today they simply no longer exist.
The side shared their home with the LA Galaxy (the ‘Stub Hub Center’) but rarely got close to filling the stadium. Attendances were dwindling and that all important buzzword ‘revenue’ suffered. Fan numbers started to drop below 10,000 for the first time and the MLS did not see Chivas as a viable franchise. The club did have some slight success in the initial few years after forming but it has suffered badly in the last few seasons, finishing bottom of their division in each of the last four campaigns.
In their last ever match the side managed to defeat San Jose Earthquakes 1-0, fittingly the match was played at their home ground.
Afterwards the following letter was posted on the official Chivas website –Dear Fans and Partners, Later this week, Major League Soccer will announce that a new ownership group has been granted the right to operate a second soccer club in Los Angeles. So as to allow that LA-based group the ability to develop and market a club with its own identity, the League has also decided to cease operations of Chivas USA effective immediately. While the new club promises to be inclusive and will benefit from residing in its own soccer-specific stadium in Los Angeles, the news is obviously bittersweet for our loyal fans and dedicated partners. Over the last decade everyone associated with Chivas USA has worked earnestly and with deep devotion. Staff, players and coaches have defended the Red & White with the same pride and honor that you exhibited on our behalf. You have been unconditional in your support of the club, only asking that in return we give our best each and every day. As like any team in any sport, we have suffered unimaginable heartache as well as enjoyed moments of unbridled joy. We have felt the pain of the cruel ricochet, the unlucky bounce and the wrong clang off the post. However, we have also been blessed to witness Cubo’s golazos, the grace of a Claudio Suarez tackle and the superhero saves of Brad Guzan and Dan Kennedy. History will say many things about Chivas USA, but the one, undeniable truth will be that in every instance – no matter the circumstance, setting or outcome – our resiliency was supported by the indomitable spirit of our most loyal and proud fans. It has been my honor to be associated with you and Chivas USA. Thank you. Nelson C. Rodríguez President
Stirring stuff from the Chivas president. On the flip side this is the letter sent from the MLS to the fans of Chivas…Dear Chivas USA Supporters, Later today, the League will announce a new strategy for the Los Angeles market. After conducting a comprehensive strategic review of the market and Chivas USA’s operations, we will announce that effective this afternoon, Chivas USA will cease operations. This was a very difficult decision. We want to thank you, the fans, for ten years of unconditional support. We are grateful for your commitment to the club and to the sport. As part of our new Los Angeles strategy, we will launch a new MLS Los Angeles club for the 2017 season and will announce the new team’s ownership group later this week.
I believe strongly that a new MLS Los Angeles team with passionate local ownership and an inclusive approach targeting all soccer/sports fans will be very successful.While I will wait until Thursday’s formal announcement to get into specific details, I can assure you that this new team will have world-class ownership with local connections and residency and a commitment to a new soccer stadium in the greater Los Angeles area. I believe that our new strategy for Los Angeles provides the best opportunity for success and is the best way to connect with an engaged and impassioned fan base in Southern California. I am confident that this new direction will help us achieve our goal of becoming one of the top leagues in the world. Sincerely, Don Garber
You can’t help but feel a little bit weird when you hear words like ‘strategy’ and ‘market’ when referencing the death of a club. The MLS has always ran the league like this, they have always relied on the franchise method and it works alongside other US sports but it still doesn’t sit well with regards to football and the supporters that live and breath their local clubs. Chivas were never very successful, they were never the biggest but they were still a club followed by thousands of supporters and to be simply cast aside due to a better ‘marketing opportunity’ just doesn’t feel right.
It will be interesting to see if the tens of thousands of Chivas supporters will now get behind whatever team appears on the horizon but the MLS probably don’t really care as long as they can get a slice of the few other million potential ‘customers’ out there.