MLS, Liga MX plan to hold the new 47-team tournament annually in mid- to late-summergetty images
The inaugural edition of the new-look Leagues Cup will "likely start in late-July or early-August 2023 and take place over a full month," according to a source cited by Cardenas & Stejskal of THE ATHLETIC. The source said that the first match "likely won’t be held until after the 2023 Women’s World Cup kicks off on July 20 of that year." The leagues plan "to hold the tournament annually in mid- to late-summer." Like the current iteration of Leagues Cup, the competition will "be hosted entirely in the U.S. and Canada, at least in its first year." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "There is nothing like this in professional sports -- certainly nothing like this in soccer. Imagine if you could do this in other parts of the world. We’re stopping our season, we’re going to shut it down and we’re going to jointly own something very unique. That’s going to be pretty cool.” The source said that it is "likely that the Leagues Cup will follow the same plan as the 2026 World Cup, which will feature 48 teams in 16 different groups of three teams." Additionally, the Leagues Cup competitors will "all be compensated for participating," with the winners receiving "a cash prize that Garber said will 'change everybody’s perception of what a World Cup-style' tournament can look like." A separate source said that there is "a stipulation that bonuses will be equal for each individual MLS and Liga MX team" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/22).
SHOW THEM THE MONEY: In Atlanta, Doug Roberson notes nothing in the information provided by CONCACAF, MLS or Liga MX in its press releases regarding the new Leagues Cup and expanded Champions League mentioned "anything about expanded bonuses or tournament monies." Roberson: "If I’m that MLS player I’m upset. Very, very upset." Discussions "may be in the works to expand tournament pay and bonuses for the players." There also will be "twice as much work for most personnel in clubs to make all of these games happen, too." These tournaments could possibly "goose the broadcast monies MLS hopes to receive in its next negotiations." Players are "supposed to receive a larger slice of that," but, again, "so many games." Roberson hopes "more answers come out soon about how to fairly compensate not only the players but everyone whose work will increase because of this increase in games" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 9/23).