Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NFL Considered Proposal for Competing Pro Soccer League

Seattle Seahawks/Sounders Stadium
According to emails and interviews, AmericanizeSoccer.com can confirm the National Football League (NFL) received a proposal in 2007 to start a pro Soccer league to compete against Major League Soccer (MLS) for the months of March through August/September.  It appears though, the proposed new Soccer league, never made it to the desk of the commissioner, Roger Goodell.

Sources reveal the proposal was rejected by the Communications/PR Director at that time and he had not consulted with Goodell.  At the time, his statement read that their focus was expanding their football base and expanding internationally; Soccer was not in their plans. 

New details have emerged about the proposal and what was being considered.

Matt Hill, a former Public Relations executive with the NFL, was the person who received the proposal.  He has said that there was a lot of positive discussion about the possibility of having a pro Soccer league play in the dormant NFL stadiums during the off-season, but the idea got killed off pretty quickly.

The idea was to build the league to compete against MLS using new, contemporary rules made to enhance scoring and give fans a better experience.

These rules changes included possible substitutions to give players a chance to rest and come back into play (as done in football, basketball and hockey), a two-point goal if made from a further distance (similar to a 3-point goal in basketball) and allowing fans to keep any Soccer ball kicked into the stands (like a foul ball in baseball). 

Seattle Seahawks/Sounders Stadium
Eventually, the hope for this new league, would be to pass MLS in popularity.  Future goals would be to become recognized as the 5th most watched sport, and then set its sights on gaining traction to move ahead of hockey and keep gaining on the others of the 'big four.'

If owned by the NFL, this new pro Soccer league would market into the NFL season and vice versa, the NFL would market back into the Soccer season.  It was talked about as if each Soccer team would take on the same uniform colors and marketing schemes as their NFL cousins, similar to what is being done now with the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders. 

The stadiums are the heart of the matter.  They sit without use for these months and can be fitted perfectly to host Soccer events.  The original intent of the proposal was to take advantage of these obvious circumstances, while using the great NFL marketing machine, to create a new revenue stream by partnering with Soccer.

Hill added that there was support for the idea to move forward in the office, but it was an idea ahead of its time and too many established NFL veterans in the New York office did not take it seriously.  Hill believed at the time that the NFL did not consider all the revenue possibilities of owning both the 1st and 5th most popular spectator sports.

Originally published in 2011.

10 comments:

  1. I bet 90% of the NFL owners couldn't tell you what FIFA stands for. They have the egos to think they could pull this off, but unless they paid NFL level salaries, no aspiring player worth watching would play in a non-FIFA league. They might look in the other direction. Start a minor league football setup and partner with MLS clubs/stadiums.

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  2. Here's the reality: The NFL went against FIFA and they blinked. They realized the futility of their silly idea.

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  3. NFL is boring, its bascially the same as Rugby. Football is unwatchable with all those commercials thrown down your throat. Also with the wearing of all the condom gear is pathetic, boring, boring, boring. Too many gangsters partcipate in this sport and they call it the stuper bowl?.

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  4. This sounds like the absolute dumbest thing ever, no wonder it never made it to Goodell's desk.

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  5. Anonymous Dec 8, you are goofy. American football murders in fan interest, and teams don't have to travel a massive 25 miles for two-thirds of their games. I love soccer, I love football, but the NFL is king of al leagues in the world. Phenomenal business plan, revenue, no "administrative action" i.e. Rangers, no sacking coaches three times in 14 months (lookin' at you Roman) and just about as hard to score ad they can use their hands. Educate yourself like I'm sure all soccer fans say about the sport we love.

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  6. You haven’t seen crazy fans until you’ve seen soccer fans. They can be heard singing and chanting and occasionally cussing out an opposing player or misguided referee for the full 90 minutes of a game, regardless of whether their team is winning or losing. I love the energy when I'm inside the stadium.

    soccer camps in new york

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  7. This plan has merit, just that Soccer is the worng game. They need to adapt something like an americanized AFL/GAA International Compromise Rules format. Make it high scoring, lots of contact, add some gridiron and soccer type rules, like the Conversion kick from Scrimmage, Corner Kicks and set piece plays. Dress the players in lots of spandex, create a new "Star System" around them. NFL, if you are listening, I have already copyrighted the code of rules. You can have them cheap.
    A.J.

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  8. AJ is right. If you are going to start something new, then why do a bastardized version of an existing product? Why does everyone assume that the codes of Football are carved in stone? Invent a new code for a new league. The idea has merit.
    J.Q.

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  9. The NFL should put on a $1,000,000 winner-take all Rugby tournament, like the Sevens, only call it NFL 11's or something.

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  10. They would have put MLS out of business by inflating salaries and then would have killed the league when revenue streams tighten. This happen at the turn of the century with baseball owners who decided to kill their football/soccer teams that shared stadiums with their baseball teams, when the depression hit. Even though the teams were drawing well. When things get tight the soccer would get cut just like NBA owners have cut their wnba teams or sold off.

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