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Gillett Wants Canadian Soccer Rivalry With TFC


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Gillett Wants Canadian Soccer Rivalry With MLS Franchise Bid

By Tariq Panja

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg)

Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett said Major League Soccer would develop a genuine rivalry in the country if it added a franchise to compete with the Toronto club.

Colorado-based Gillett is working with United Soccer League team Montreal Impact to become one of seven applicants to file expansion forms with the MLS. Gillett also owns half of Liverpool, the most successful soccer club in England.

``The idea would be if there were two or three Canadian clubs, we could create a little competition and it might be very good for television, good for fans and so forth,'' Gillett said in an interview Oct. 24 in London. ``That's the motivation.''

Toronto FC, the MLS's first non-U.S. team, debuted in 2007, selling all of its season-tickets in its two seasons in the league.

Other applicants for the two expansion teams that would debut in 2011 include Merritt Paulson, the 35-year-old son of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Arthur Blank, owner of the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons and Eugene Melnyk of the Ottawa Senators.

Gillett and co-owner Tom Hicks have heard criticism from Liverpool supporters for increasing the club's debt and delaying construction of a new stadium. Gillett insists he is a passionate soccer fan.

``We love sports and we particular enjoy soccer,'' he said. ``Mrs. Gillett and I get up many, many mornings on Saturdays at 5 o'clock to catch the early games.''

$40 Million Bid

The minimum price for a new MLS team is $40 million. Prospective owners were required to provide information about their group, a stadium plan and financing, and an analysis of the potential expansion market.

League deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said the applicants would be carefully vetted.

``We have to be careful that we continue our policy of only letting in wealthy, top class, committed, experienced, sophisticated investors,'' Gazidis said in an Oct. 7 interview. ``Our partners are unrivalled and I would literally say that in the world of sports, our ownership group is as good as any ownership group of any league in the world.''

Current owners include Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, New England Patriots NFL team owner Robert Kraft and Stan Kroenke, the owner of the NBA's Denver Nuggets.

MLS has 14 teams in the U.S. and Canada and plans to expand to 18 by 2011. The Seattle Sounders will join next season, followed by a yet-to-be-named team in Philadelphia in 2010.

Gazidis said the league could have as many as 25 teams in the future and surpass the NHL in terms of popularity.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja at Stamford Bridge at tpanja@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: October 28, 2008 15:15 EDT


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Good to hear something from Saputo's partner. Yea 25 is strange. I'm sure you are right about 24. FIFA has a recommendation of 18 but that won't happen in North America. Not only does MLS not care about FIFA dates but they seem oblivious to a lot of things. In this case it works in our favour. The MLS could always say they only have 19 teams (US based) and that the 3 Canadian clubs should be counted as extras. That would leave them close to the 18 and with a manageable 22 teams.

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quote:Originally posted by Rudi

Yes we did.

We do deserve better, we should have taken 6 points from MTL instead of 4. :D

The way I see it, we deserved at least a draw in Montreal.

But wow, did our boys ever fought hard for that draw at BMO... It changed the whole season for us. Most memorable Impact game ever, as far as I'm concerned.

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