Renewed my Whitecaps season ticket (to hell with Benjamin Massey)!

September 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps Season 2013 | 6 Comments

Despite the disappointment with Saturday night’s result in Dallas and the fact our playoff hopes look bleak, I have renewed my Vancouver Whitecaps season ticket for 2014. Why? Because I love football and the Vancouver Whitecaps, and because the Whitecaps season ticket is an exceptionally good value.  For what would buy me three, maybe four Vancouver Canucks tickets at a similar location in Rogers Arena, I have an entire season of matches to look forward to at BC Place.  

My brother blogger Benjamin Massey  has decided not to renew his season ticket, and has published a bizarre rant to explain why:   

Apparently the single-entity structure of Major League Soccer has upset Massey.  He feels the league is “rigged” and that rules are made up on the go to the extent that it is not worth watching.  Instead he has decided to go off and support…wait for it… Edmonton F.C.  and Charlton Athletic.  

Edmonton FC aside, if it is non-rigged football and transparent rules  that he is seeking, I don’t think he will get any joy supporting Charlton Athletic.  If he thinks the league rules are rigged against the Whitecaps in MLS, he is in for a nasty surprise.  English football is run in such a manner that Charlton Athletic have absolutely NO hope of winning anything, ever, unless a Saudi oil baron takes a fancy to them and buys them (being a fan of West Ham I know this feeling well).  

Even when Charlton were in the Premier League they had absolutely NO hope of winning it, nor the FA Cup (to give them credit, Charlton did win the FA Cup once…in 1947).   This is because the rules of the Premier League and other competitions are such that the big rich teams are favoured and teams like Charlton Athletic have absolutely NO chance of winning anything (with the possible exception of the unfashionable League Cup where the big teams don’t actually try).

Before a ball is kicked in the English Premier League, everyone knows that one of only three teams will win it, and the rest will be sucking wind.  Charlton Athletic is cannon fodder, period.  As for Edmonton FC, once the New York Cosmos get up and running properly, they will be in the same position as Charlton Athletic.  Why? Because there is no salary cap in the new NASL and the Cosmos owners have an enormous amount of money more than the owners of Edmonton FC. 

There is no doubt the single entity concept of MLS is bizarre and unprecedented.  But this is what is good about it, not what is wrong with it.  The single entity concept with a salary cap is revolutionary in world football. The MLS is introducing a concept into football which exists virtually nowhere else in the soccer world: rough parity between its teams which allows for the possibility that any team in the league can win it.  Were Massey correct in his rantings, the LA Galaxy and the New York Red Bulls would be winning the MLS Cup every year.  In fact, rank underdogs working entirely within the salary cap have won the MLS Cup, not just teams employing designated players.  When the actual record is looked at the MLS is clearly not a rigged league.  If you want to see the same teams winning year after year after year to the exclusion of the vast majority of other teams, then the MLS is not for you.  Yet this is what happens in the majority of football leagues in the world which do not employ a salary cap (such as in, ahem, England where Charlton Athletic  play).   

Massey wonders why other teams subsidized bringing Clint Dempsey into the league: this is no mystery, they did it because it makes MLS better and raises its profile.  When I go to a match I am going to support the Whitecaps, but seeing the Whitecaps play against the likes of David Beckham or Clint Dempsey makes it a far better experience. There is no scandal here, just enlightened self interest by the owners and MLS to improve the quality and attractiveness of games played in the league (the $9 Million the other owners chipped in is chump change in any event, and well worth the cost).  He also frets about Urruti going to Portland from Toronto: it is simply not the case that Urruti was taken from Toronto without Toronto’s agreement, in fact coach Ryan Nelson is well pleased with what TFC got in return.  It was a scandal when Luis Figo left Barcelona to play for Real Madrid, but you won’t find any ex Barcelona fans supporting Edmonton FC instead, however…

While I too complain about the Byzantine rules of MLS and especially its referrees, I never have had a doubt that what I am watching on the pitch was anything less than competitive football, with both teams trying their best to win.   I also observed that the quality of football took a quantum leap forward beyond that offered in the new NASL, where Edmonton FC now toils.  

Massey will have his appetite for crap teams playing crap football with no hope of winning well satisfied in supporting Charlton FC and Edmonton FC. He can have them. Life just might prove to be very lonely indeed, however. 

I am renewing my Whitecaps season ticket because, as a person who loves football, the MLS provides the best football available to me to watch in person.  It is a far cry in quality from the English Premier League and some other leagues, but it is honest and entertaining competitive football in a league which is growing exponentially both in interest, competitiveness, and quality.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed most of the matches at BC Place this year, and some of the matches, such as the 2-0 defeat of the Seattle Sounders,  have been absolutely thrilling.  I have watched some pure football class from some players on opposing sides like Torres of Chivas USA and Donovan of the Galaxy.   I look forward to watching Clint Dempsey play next year for the Sounders and hopefully seeing the Whitecaps beat them.  If the Whitecaps owners chipped in a bit of pocket change to get him here so we can play against him, I commend them.

Furthermore, and notwithstanding the terrible football the Whitecaps have played recently, I know that when I sit in my seat in the first match of 2014, I will be watching a team that has a chance to win the MLS Cup; I will have this experience  because of the salary cap and the rough parity created by the MLS single entity structure and its rules.  Very few fans in English football or in other countries will have this experience unless they are supporting the two or three teams that actually have any chance of winning.

I think it is time for Massey’s friends to sit him down and have an intervention: he has completely lost the plot.  






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  1. Whereas I do not agree with Ben’s reasons I have not and likely will not renew my 4 season tickets and just pick and chose games. I feel that since the team has entered the MLS the management from the ownership down has not been able to make the step up like seattle, portland and montreal. They are clearly the very poor cousins of the recent usl graduates. I am from montreal and I still have the montreal attitude that you do not reward mismanagement with money …they need an incentive to improve and only by losing money will they take notice.

    • The Montreal attitude you refer to led to the loss of the Montreal Expos. Better to support the team and work for change on the inside.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Sent from my iPad

      • The expos actually were never mismanaged they had a strong ownership etc. With that said they had great teams and failed to deliver. In the end they failed and deserved to collapse. The habs have won 24 stanley cups, Alouettes I believe are number 1 in grey cups now, The impact are a year younger and a year ahead. ..message is clear in montreal be successful. .survive….blindly supporting a team …is well…toronto

      • Ha ha! Point taken, but when I watch TFC game now no one is there! I really miss the Expos…

        Sent from my iPad

  2. I support the concept of a salary capped league and, whilst I feel that Mr. Massey’s comments were a bit extreme, I have to concede that to me the optics of the Dempsey and Urruti deals didn’t look quite kosher. Whether it is so or not, the MLS have fostered the appearance of a handful of favoured clubs and a whole bunch of spear carriers. I really do not believe that the MLS should be involved in the internal football operations of individual organizations beyond setting universally applied league policy. Otherwise, it looks dirty, it feels dirty and I believe that it is dirty. As far as owners chipping in to bring quality, impact players to MLS, I would rather that Greg Kerfoot and his partners chipped in to bring such a player to the Whitecaps and perhaps MLS could pony up nine million dollars to help achieve that end.

    • In twenty years time I might agree with you, but for the present time the league as a Whole is still just a sapling and needs to attract high profile players to grow. If Dempsey Comes to the league and wants to negotiate where he wants to play, it is still in the interest of the other teams that he play in the league. I haven’t read any complaints from the other teams, nor is there any legal action over either the Dempsey or Urruti moves. There is just a lot of paranoid chatter from the more paranoid fans. I can hardly wait to see both players next year no matter who they are playing for, because the football will be better and it will motivate our owners to raise their game too.

      Sent from my iPad

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