Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed plans to close down Chivas USA and hand the team's franchise rights to a new ownership group, reports, www.sportspromedia.com/. The LA-based club will cease operations with immediate effect as part of the league's revised strategy for the Southern California region. A new team from the city will enter MLS in 2017, with a consortium expected to announce plans on Thursday for the club and a new soccer-specific stadium in the Los Angeles area.
According to SI.com, that group features Vietnamese-American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen; Mandalay Entertainment chairman and chief executive Peter Guber; Tom Penn, a former National Basketball Association (NBA) executive turned ESPN analyst; and Vincent Tan, the Malaysian owner of Cardiff City. The group is reported to have paid over US$100 million for the franchise.
Chivas USA players, with the likely exception of the much sought-after Mexico striker Erick 'Cubo' Torres, will be entered into a 'dispersal draft' for selection by the other MLS teams, including 2015 expansion franchises New York City FC and Orlando City. Torres is expected to find a new club as a 'designated player', whose salary is paid outside the league-enforced salary cap.
Meanwhile, MLS will also help the club's other staff to seek new employment.
"As part of our new strategy for Southern California - a major hotbed of soccer participation and fan support - we believe that engaging with a new ownership group which has the resources and local community ties, and a plan for a dedicated soccer-specific stadium, provides us with the best chance for success," said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
MLS will now feature 20 teams in 2015, divided into two ten-team conferences. Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City will move to the Western Conference, with newcomers New York City FC and Orlando City joining the Eastern Conference.
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