From: The St. Louis Lions Contact: Tony Glavin
2 Woodlands Parkway (636) 939-5151
Cottleville, MO 63376 www.stllions.com
Cottleville-Following the Annual General Meeting of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) in Tampa, Florida November 21-24, 2008, St. Louis soccer icon Tony Glavin has decided to begin the process to acquire a men’s professional team to play in the USL First Division beginning in 2010. Glavin, who is Owner, President and Head Coach of the St. Louis Lions USL Premier Development League franchise located in the St. Louis region, will be heading a group of investors who will bring some of the highest quality professional soccer being played in the United States to the region.
«We’re well aware of the wonderful effort to bring Major League Soccer to the St. Louis area and we certainly wish Mr. Cooper and his group our hope for every success in Collinsville» said Glavin. «However a USL1 franchise is a very different creature than the MLS. To begin with, while the quality of play in the USL has proven itself to be comparable to that of the MLS in both the 2008 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and the 2008 CONCACAF Champions League of international play, USL franchise fees have historically been well under $1 million, while MLS franchise fees are now at some $40 million. Where the MLS might need to fill a 20,000 seat stadium for every game to break even, we’ll be looking at something on the scale of 3-5,000 attendance per game to be profitable.»
In the 2008 Lamar Hunt US Open, USL1 Charleston Battery defeated both FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo of the MLS before falling 3-1 to DC United of the MLS. In earlier rounds, Crystal Palace Baltimore, a Second Division (USL2) team beat two MLS teams before losing to DC United. In CONCACAF play, both Montreal and Puerto Rico of the USL have moved into the knock-out rounds of international play against the best teams in the Americas.
Buoying the bid by the St. Louis Lions are a number of developments that argue for future success. When sports apparel and equipment giant Nike acquired the UK based Umbro sports shoe and apparel company, it also became a 94% owner of the United Soccer League. Mark Duggan, President of Umbro-The Americas, announced at the Annual General Meeting that Nike is committed to the success of the league. As USL President Francisco Marcos stated earlier, «Whether we are covered in diamonds (the Umbro logo) or surrounded by the swoosh (the Nike logo) I am convinced that the combination of Nike + Umbro is the future of soccer, and certainly ours.»
With a lucrative(for American soccer) television contract in hand with the Fox Soccer Channel along with players and television audiences throughout North and South America, the USL has also begun to look abroad for strategic partnerships and once again, Tony Glavin and the St. Louis Lions are well placed. As Tim Holt, USL Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer said at the USL AGM, «The USL continues to evolve into a viable alternative league model for Pro Soccer in North America featuring the USL developmental pyramid with an increasing focus on international relationships.» English Premier League teams West Ham and Bromley have begun player exchange and player development projects with the league while Glavin has developed a relationship with the famed Celtic FC from his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland.
«What also makes our efforts attractive to the league is the fact that we have so much of the necessary infrastructure in place, including five full size fields, an indoor soccer field and facility, an extensive youth program and a thousand seat stadium with full size professional field along with all the necessary land for further development,» said Glavin. «We’re going to be looking at expanding our stadium and installing a variety of seating while expanding our parking to accommodate the larger crowds. It is for those reasons we feel assured of our own success even with an MLS franchise less than fifty miles away.»
The United Soccer League has room for growth with the Seattle Sounders, a USL1 team joining the MLS next year and the Atlanta Silverbacks taking a hiatus as Atlanta bids for an MLS franchise for 2010. Current USL1 franchises are:
Minnesota Thunder, Rochester Rhinos
Carolina Railbacks, Montreal Impact
Charleston Battery, Portland Timbers
Vancouver Whitecaps, Miami FC Blues
Puerto Rico Islanders
For the 2008 season, there was a 30 game league schedule with 15 home games. The United Soccer Leagues was founded in 1986 and the USL1 began play in 1996. Currently there are 120 franchises comprise USL1, USL2, USL-Premier Development League, and USL-W, a women’s league. There is also an extensive SUPER Y league composed of youth boys and girls teams with players competing at the highest levels of youth soccer competition.
The St. Louis Lions was a awarded a USL-PDL franchise in 2005 and was named
«Rookie Franchise of the Year» in 2006. Tony Glavin is a former professional player from Scotland who has played and coached professionally in the United States since 1978 with the Philadelphia Furyand the St. Louis Steamers. He was a three time MISL All-Star and also won the MISL All-Star Most Valuable Player Award. He has coached the St. Louis Steamers, the Kansas City Comets and the Dayton Dynamo.
«I look forward to the day in the very near future when there is competition between two professional soccer teams in the St. Louis region that takes on all the excitement and fanaticism I remember as a boy in Scotland when the Old Firm rivalry of the Glasgow Rangers, the Bluenoses and Glasgow Celtic, the Bhoys, faced off in a cross town competition, » said Glavin. «When we have generated that kind of passion St. Louis will have regained its place as the soccer capital of the United States.»