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SPHERICAL PRESENTS Stefan Szymanski of Soccernomics

A day after the release of his somewhat controversial article, the University of Michigan professor joined us to discuss the economics of MLS.

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Autumn Hutchins

SPHERICAL -- One Story Told Until the Ball Stops Rolling -- is an ongoing multimedia project from Hudson River Blue. Subscribe on iTunes and get all six episodes by CLICKING HERE! Additionally, every installment is available at

The last time we spoke with Stefan Szymanski, the University of Michigan professor and co-author of Soccernomics, he either-famously-or-infamously referred to MLS as "Minor League Soccer."

Fast forward to yesterday, April 23rd. Szymanski published a piece on the Soccernomics Agency blog entitled, "So, what is the MLS business model?" Among other inferences and forecasts, he stated that MLS's pay-to-play framework resembles that of a pyramid scheme. He also suggested that, if MLS owners are indeed dead-set on continuing to turn profits rather than spending big to win games, then the league would be destined for an eventual collapse.

Obviously, Hudson River Blue had to get in contact. We asked about his methodology for projecting revenue and cost figures for the league, his take on the responses to his article, and a little about the anonymous league source that informed much of the work.

Three important details before we get started:

  • Szymanski's source worked at the MLS offices, but does not do so currently.
  • The source initiated contact with Stefan.
  • Both men shared their data and their estimates with representatives from the league. None of those representatives commented -- one way or the other -- on the accuracy of those figures.

HRB has no dog in this race, if it can even be called that.

But we do love the narrative. THE NARRATIVE!

Pardon the audio quality, won't ya? Let's do this.

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