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The economic impact of the coronavirus has shattered plans that once seemed like a safe bet for the league.
Sacramento FC’s top investor Ron Burkle withdrew from plans to acquire an MLS franchise due to the coronavirus pandemic, casting doubt on the league’s expansion agenda in Northern California.
MLS said Friday night that it will continue to evaluate its options in the fertile market. Sacramento was originally scheduled to start playing in 2022 after receiving a spot in the US top flight, a date that was pushed back earlier in the Covid-19 crisis.
The Sacramento Bee has reported that “although Burkle signed a preliminary agreement in 2019 with MLS, the two parties never reached a formal long-term agreement.”
What did MLS announce about Sacramento FC?
“Earlier today, Ron Burkle informed the league that based on issues with the Covid-19 related project, he decided not to go ahead with the acquisition of an MLS expansion team in Sacramento,” MLS wrote in a statement. statement on their website.
“After working for many years to bring an MLS team to Sacramento, the league continues to believe that it can be a great MLS market. In the coming days, the league will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to assess possible next steps. from MLS in Sacramento. “
MLS Commissioner Don Garber issued an additional note to the franchise.
“I want to thank [Sacramento mayor Darrell] Steinberg for his continued efforts to bring MLS to Sacramento, “Garber said.” His commitment to the city and dedication to his passionate soccer fans should make every citizen of Sacramento proud.
“The interest in owning a club in Major League Soccer has never been greater. And I remain incredibly optimistic about finalizing expansion plans for our 30th team.”
What’s next for the city?
The City of Sacramento needs new sources of investment to save its hopes of hosting an MLS site, but the financial challenges of the pandemic could deter cash inflows.
A “very disappointed” Steinberg, the mayor of California’s capital, criticized Burkle for disloyalty to the community, but held out hope for a positive outcome.
“We will still bring MLS to Sacramento and work with the league to find a new lead investor,” he added. Steinberg told The Bee. “We are not starting from scratch in any way. We have an approved stadium plan and an approved plan to build and pay for the infrastructure. We also have the best fan base in the country, one that has proven time and again that it can support an MLS team.
“We have only begun to fight for what our city deserves.”