One of the most controversial eras in MLS history ended Thursday as MLS bought Chivas USA from its owner Jorge Vergara. The franchise had consistently struggled to find on-field success and had been accused of racial discrimination in a lawsuit filed last year by two former staffers.
It is reported that the league bought the franchise for $25 million and the league said in a statement that it has several interested owners who would buy and rebrand the franchise on the grounds that they keep it in Los Angeles. The club will operate as Chivas USA and will be run by MLS for the 2014 season.
Chivas USA had been scrutinized for over a year for attempting to implement a policy similar to its parent club, Chivas de Guadalajara in Liga MX, in which it would only field players who could be eligible for the Mexican National Team. The club ran into legal trouble when an HBO Real Sports report revealed the club’s survey to young players in which it asked for the national descent of the player’s mother and father. The report also investigated claims made former members of its backroom staff. The lawsuit was settled out of court on Wednesday, terms were not revealed.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said he did not view Chivas USA as a failure but rather as a ‘setback’, he thanked Vergara and his wife, Angelica Fuentes, for their service to the league.
“Jorge was an early believer in the league and he and Angelica have been great partners in MLS,” Garber said in a statement provided by MLS. “We collectively agreed that it is best to sell the club to new owners who are committed to securing a new stadium and providing MLS with a strong rival for the LA Galaxy.”
Vergara had taken full control of the club in 2012, buying out Antonio and Lorenzo Cué, as part of an ultimately failed attempt to further unify Chivas de Guadalajara and Chivas USA but admitted failure.
“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. “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.”
MLS will work with the club’s new owners to secure a new stadium and end the groundshare agreement they hold with the LA Galaxy. The club’s lease with the StubHub Center reportedly expires at the end of the season. The league is also rejecting the idea that an existing owner will buy the club with Garber adding that he is aiming to end the era of owners owning more than one club in MLS. Garber also said he is hoping to finalize the club’s resale this year.
The club’s existing staff and players will remain at the club with any players currently loaned from Chivas expected to return to Mexico.
Click on Christian’s name above to follow him on Twitter