MLS: SuperLiga Adding To the SUM

Posted on by Peter C


In my last post I prompted a discussion that centers around SUM and its relationship to MLS. If you are unaware of Soccer United Marketing(SUM), it was created at a time when the league was in danger of folding. Just 5 years after its first season in 1996, the league was looking at contraction and possibly worse. It was then that new commissioner Don Garber convinced league investors to pony up the money for the US broadcast rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cup from the German company that had originally purchased the rights from FIFA. Here are a few background articles that do a far better job than I to get caught up with some sum history.

U.S. Soccer, a World Cup Dud, Sustains Pro League With TV Deals – Curtis Eichelberger – July 7, 2006

Tapping Into a Gold Mine – Ridge Mahoney – May 1, 2007

How Don Garber helped MLS get its game on – Tripp Mickle – March 16, 2009

Note that if you see articles with bylines of either Mickle or Mahoney, read them. Their reports on the business of soccer are usually a cut above.

And that brings us back to what started this discussion, SuperLiga 2009. Haters of this tourney can take heart from this…
In its first year, hello David Beckham, the event drew an average of over 17,300 for the first 8 matches. Last year over the same period, the event pulled in just under 15,900. This year, after match day 2, the numbers have plummeted to an average of 8,152. Additionally, as bad as it sounds, it’s actually worse. In the first two years of SuperLiga, each group match(12 total) were single game events. This year, on the matchday that pits the MLS teams against each other and the Mexican teams against each other, the groups played doubleheaders, effectively halving matchday 2 attendance potential.

To illustrate, matchday 2 attendance in 2008 was just over 66,800; this year just over 14,500. Without knowing the inside financial details of the SUM event, it could be inferred that the stadium expense for two extra venues, plus any extra travel expenses were calculated to yield the highest return and pointed to using 2 locations vs 4 . But I doubt the SUM anticipated such a precipitous drop in gate attendance. The event’s Mexican broadcasters and de facto partners FMF(Mexico’s USSF) will only be concerned with how the sponsorships, ratings and ad sales come in.

SuperLiga 2009 – Matchday 2
Group A
Game Score Pts  
Chicago 1 6 Chicago – MLSNet
Chivas USA 0 0 Chivas USA – MLSNet
San Luis 3 3 San Luis – Wikipedia
Tigres UANL 1 3 Tigres UANL – Wikipedia
Group B
New England 1 4 Revolution Soccer
Kansas City 1 2 Kansas City – Hillcrest Road
Atlas 0 2 Atlas – The Offside
Santos Laguna 0 1 Santos Laguna – Wikipedia

9 Responses to MLS: SuperLiga Adding To the SUM

  1. Ture says:

    Perhaps it is because the tournament is in june which coincides with the Mexican off season/ party time for the players and the FIFA Confederations Cup. I agree with those comments on this site last week that MLS/SUM holding this event during the Confederations Cup is gravely insulting and damaging to the game.

  2. Jesse says:

    SUM is a pimp, nothing more, nothing less.

  3. eplnfl says:

    Ture brings up the Confederations Cup, which suddenly is a interest to all. In any event it would have drawn some interest away in the worst of circumstances. As, I mentioned before with so much soccer on Tv or the internet for the soccer fan to see getting out to the pitch or park as the case maybe is less important. Hey in the US you now have a women’s league back in play for a market share.

    Fact of the matter is we have a US Soccer season now where MLS is center stage and the USMNT is making headlines( and hopes to next year also). The big international friendlies are coming up and Gold Cup is near. I do not care after the Spain victory that it is a “b” team for the US. So, Superliga is a sideshow this year when last year it was attractive with less going on. Maybe we have an embarrassment of riches! Who has time for Wimbledon!

  4. Peter C says:

    Certainly it doesn’t help to have such international scheduling conflicts. I did a post several weeks ago where I demonstrated how teams could still draw OK if they were to break completely for international conflicts and have to make up the games later in the season on weekdays.
    One of MLS major arguments against the break is the loss of revenue for weekday vs weekend matches.

    SUM may be a pimp, but do you have alternate suggestions for them to fill the coffers to support teams losing money?

    Yes the ‘Summer of Soccer” is glorious. Won’t be another one like it unless the US wins the 2011 Gold Cup and plays in the 2013 Confederations Cup.

    A big revenue year for SUM. They have the marketing contract for Gold Cup, as well as the rights for the Barcelona and CD Guadalajara(Chivas) friendlies that will be played this summer.

  5. Lee says:

    MLS is dominating the FMF in Superliga, Kartik. You may know the national team but your cliams that the FMF was so much better than the MLS are now hollow and have been exposed. The only Mexican league victory in this tournament was against a ten men Chivas USA. MLS has won every other head to head matchup.

    Your focus and emphasis on the national team and wanting players to move abroad to help the USMNT has clouded your objectivity about MLS. It is very possible we’ll have four MLS teams in the Superliga semifinals. What will that say about your beloved Mexican League. These aren’t even the top MLS teams, whereas Mexico still send s teams that are in CONCACAF.

  6. Lee, you are joking right?

    My analysis isn’t perfect but in this case Superliga does ZERO to refute any argument I have previously made. It is June and the Mexican League is not even in pre season. They are on holiday. Tigres sent their U-18 side and didn’t even bother sending their first team manager.

    Atlas is using this tournament to try out youngsters. Besides none of the FMF sides made the playoffs last season. Santosn Laguna and San Luis have had some recent success but again it is their offseason.

    Also I once again find the scheduling of this event during an international period totally insulting. Any value the tournament may previously have had from a football perspective is now erased. But it’s still a money maker for SUM I suppose.

  7. Lars says:

    Superliga is a joke. They should change the tournament format, or get rid of it entirely. Having the not quite good 4 compete against reserve and u-18 teams from Mexico is a sham for the people who paid for this event.

  8. Peter C says:

    from Lars:
    “Having the not quite good 4 compete against reserve and u-18 teams from Mexico is a sham for the people who paid for this event”

    I’ve seen quite a few posts in agreement about the strengths of of the teams that are participating. I must agree regarding the non-MLS teams. But I do like the idea of our ‘2nd tier’ teams playing international club competitions. There are a few interesting suggestions to make this a better tourney out in the soccersphere.

    To date I have shied away from putting forth any prospective changes, as my focus has been on how this is a cash cow for SUM.

    But now I’ll throw in my 2 cents and say we should invite 3 prospective Europa Cup and 3 Copa Sudamerica teams. Throw in one team from Central America and one from Asia to make a 16 team field.

    Scheduling would be tricky, but when has that ever stopped SUM.

  9. eplnfl says:

    Superliga is entertainment. It is a cash cow for MLS and we should attach no great importance to any result. No one should claim any superiority of one league over the other as a result of Superliga wins and or defeats. Believe me I would love to since my Fire are undefeated but even I can not claim superiority. Now last years friendly win over Everton is another case!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *