Major League Soccer (MLS) is set to officially award St. Louis an expansion franchise to become the league’s 28th club according to reports emerging from the US.
The reports come courtesy of two sources from within the midwest city, KMOX Radio and the St.Louis Dispatch. The latter of the two has gone as far to claim that the expansion is set to be officially announced by the MLS at an event on August 20 and that the new club will need to pay a $200m expansion fee.
As well as setting a date for the announcement, the reports also indicated that the team would be likely to join the league in 2022, following in the footsteps of fellow expansion franchises including Austin FC, Nashville SC and David Beckham’s Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami who are integrating into the MLS between 2020 and 2021.
The MLS is yet to release a statement or directly comment on the reports, however, the St.Louis ownership group, spearheaded by Carolyn Kindle Betz, president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and World Wide Technology chief executive Jim Kavanaugh, released a statement to ESPN: “Major League Soccer is responsible for the timing of any announcements around League expansion, but we remain confident St. Louis has made a strong case for a team.”
The group, which goes by the name of ‘MLS4TheLou’, was confirmed by MLS commissioner Don Garber to have entered “exclusive, formal” discussions regarding the potential of it becoming an expansion franchise for the league back in April. Moreover, the group has also received high praise of late, with Garber hailing the group’s expansion efforts as “amazing”.
Other cities fighting to become an expansion franchise include Sacramento, California as well as North Carolina’s city of Charlotte – with NFL’s Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper reportedly intent on bringing an MLS franchise to the city: “You saw they mentioned St Louis first and they mentioned Charlotte second and they mentioned Sacramento third. I think that put us in the conversation.”
St. Louis has long been seen as a strong favorite to gain a franchise. As of yet, however, specific details surrounding the expansion such as its official name, crest or colors are yet to be confirmed.