MLS has announced it intends to expand to 24 teams by 2020, as commissioner Don Garber first revealed on the halftime broadcast of Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game against Italy’s AS Roma.
New York City FC is schedule to join the league as a 20th team in the 2015 season, which means four more teams would be added to make MLS the largest professional league in the world.
“The strength, passion and vision of the MLS ownership group is the foundation behind the success of our league,” Garber said in a league release. “We look forward to adding new partners with the same commitment to the sport and love of the game. As MLS enters a period of accelerated growth, the addition of new teams will allow us to expand our geographic coverage, grow our fan base and help us achieve our vision of being among the best leagues in the world by 2022.”
MLS has added 10 clubs since 2005, and according to Garber, “these expansion clubs have contributed to the vitality of our League, bringing passionate fans, new traditions and committed owners with new ideas.”
Here are the criteria that MLS will use to determine future expansion markets, according to a release, which notes the league has already engaged in “exploratory discussions with multiple markets and potential owners”:
- Committed and engaged ownership;
- A comprehensive stadium plan;
- Demonstrated fan support for professional soccer in the market;
- Support from sponsors, television partners and other constituents;
- Geographic location;
- A strategic business plan for the launch and successful operation of the club.
Addition details and a timeline for future expansion will be provided in the coming months.
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What do you make of the news? And what markets would you like to see join the league?