Chivas Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara ended his experiment with Chivas USA by selling the club back to MLS on Thursday. The league will locate new investors for the club and keep the rebranded team in the Los Angeles market.
MLS has purchased Chivas USA from Chivas Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara, the league announced on Thursday.
Chivas USA will play under its current identity in 2014 as MLS prepares to sell to a group of investors willing to keep the team in the Los Angeles market and build a new stadium for the team. The club will be rebranded with a new name and a new logo in connection with its sale.
"Ultimately, the concept didn’t work out," MLS commissioner Don Garber said during a conference call on Thursday afternoon. "I came up with the idea with the folks here at the league. I don’t believe it was the concept as much as there was some execution issues. If we could do it differently, we probably would."
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MLS will appoint an interim president to oversee the day-to-day operations of the team. The new man in charge will work within a budget set forth by the league, but the club will operate independently until a sale is agreed. The current technical team – including recently appointed coach Wilmer Cabrera – will remain in place, according to Garber.
Garber said the league has not established a deadline or a timeline to sell the club. The league has started discussions with several potential investor/operators, but it is prepared to wait until the right deal comes along before selling the club.
"Our goal is to try to get a new owner by the end of the year," Garber said. "I think that’s ambitious, but that is our goal. As part of that process, the league will – along with our soon-to-be-named local president – lead the discussions on the stadium front and hopefully be in a position to hand those discussions over to a new ownership group. The key thing here is there is no rush. We want to get this right. You can only relaunch once. We know we have to get it right the second time around."
Garber said the league does not plan to sell the club to current Colorado investor/operator Stan Kroenke or interested Miami investor/operator David Beckham.
Kroenke recently purchased a 60-acre parking lot near Hollywood Park in Inglewood, but that transaction does not place him in contention to obtain the club, according to Garber.
"He is not a candidate to purchase the team," Garber said during a conference call. "Those days for us are over. We made a deep commitment to that."
Vergara ended his association with the league by selling up after nine years. Vergara and former partner Antonio Cue received an expansion franchise to start play in 2005. Vergara assumed sole control of the club in 2012, but he admitted his plan to turn around the franchise had not taken hold as quickly as expected. The decision to sell now allows him to focus his energies solely on Chivas Guadalajara in the future.
“When Angelica and I gained full operational control of the team for the first time 15 months ago, we were hopeful we would be able to turn it around,” Vergara said in a release issued on Thursday afternoon. “However, there is only one Chivas de Guadalajara, and we have realized that it will require more time, further resources, and a level of commitment that would divert too much of our focus from our other business interests. We explored opportunities to sell to other groups, but we believe selling the franchise to MLS on an expedited basis is in the best interests of all parties, including the team’s players and its dedicated fans. MLS has assured us they are committed to keeping the club in Los Angeles and finding the right owners to make the team successful in the future. We greatly appreciate the leadership and collaboration of Don Garber and his colleagues at MLS, which resulted in an efficient transaction that benefits all the parties involved.”