The New York Cosmos former CEO Paul Kemsley
Soccer News: Legendary The New York Cosmos in Turmoil
New York Cosmos CEO Paul Kemsley Sells Out to Sela Sports. Cosmos now owed by Saudi Arabia Firm.
New York Sports Iconic Team The New York Cosmos in Turmoil. The building of a great team can take many paths and twists and The New York Cosmos are experiencing their own uproar on their road to success.
The New York Cosmos, a familiar name in American soccer, is in upheaval. The once-glamorous, iconic soccer team, who got world-famous Pelé to leave retirement and come play for them, is changing hands again. Will pandemonium rear its head and will the Cosmos continue their attempt to become the 20th MLS team?
Sela Sport of Saudi Arabia, A Saudi Arabian company, bought out the shares of former owner, chairman and CEO Paul Kemsley, who resigned last week.
"There has been a buyout at The New York Cosmos and management changes have taken place in various areas of our organization. This also results in a full restructure of both our business and staffing, which will continue to be assessed by the new leadership team that is expected to be appointed within the next 60 days. It is unequivocally the goal of the current ownership to become an MLS team in the most expedient manner possible, and decisions for the club will be made with this in mind."
Changes are already happening. Joe Fraga, the executive director of The New York Cosmos, was fired after the Sela Sport takeover of the team, according to Tropigol. Fraga had just spoken to the media days before, stating on November 2, 2011, "We're still operating business as usual." Joe Fraga added, "Just because the chairman will change doesn't mean we will change." Pelé is still on board with the new owners.
Sela Sport is a major worldwide sports company with offices in New York, UK, Hungary and Saudi Arabia. According to news reports, Sela Sports represents a number of athletes, both retired and current players, including former Brazilian and Cosmos captain Carlos Alberto, ex-Bulgarian and Chicago Fire great Hristo Stoitchkov, among others.
The company spent more than a reported $40 Million in an attempt to help secure a bid for the World Cup and has represented the Saudi Arabian National Team for the past six years. Sela Sport also has partnerships with several Saudi professional clubs.
Originally launched back in 1971, The New York Cosmos used to compete in the North American Soccer League (NASL) until the mid-1980 and were respected in the world of soccer as one of the most competitive franchises in that league. The team was backed by Warner Communications’ President Steve Ross and signed internationally acclaimed stars such as the Brazilian forward Pelé, Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia and the West German sweeper Franz Beckenbauer as well as Shep Messing.
Somehow when Pelé retired, the popularity of the New York Cosmos dwindled and fans stopped going to games. The lackluster seasons that followed the departure of the world’s best player clearly showed that New York (as well as American) soccer fans were in love with Pele’s showy, entertaining style soccer and not the game itself. The major TV deal broadcasting the games was lost and the team folded in 1984.
There have been several attempts to revive the New York Cosmos. English businessman Paul Kemsley acquired the name of the Cosmos team in 2009 and in August 2010, a new Cosmos team was announced with the Pele as the group's honorary president. The team intended on joining the MLS in New York City and launched youth academy programs on both the East and West Coasts. Earlier and abruptly this season, the Cosmos Academy West was closed, with Director of Coaching Teddy Chronopolus and the majority of the teams joining Chivas USA. A few coaches and teams from Cosmos Academy West, including the U10s, cut a separate deal and joined Golden State Soccer Club in Orange County, California.
When the Cosmos youth academy in California dissolved, it was reported as a sign that The New York Cosmos were getting closer to joining the MLS. The reason offered for closing the West Coast academy was the geographic proximity to the LA Galaxy and CHIVAS USA and an MLS rule preventing any MLS team from having a training academy within 75 miles of an existing MLS team. (Chivas and Galaxy teams existed prior to the regulation and were grandfathered.) It seemed logical that Cosmos West be absorbed by Chivas USA. Teddy Chronopoulos, Chivas USA Youth Academy Director explained that "On behalf of all the players, coaches and families we are all very excited to be a part of the Chivas USA family. Their dedication to youth development in Southern California falls under the same vision as ours."
Paul Kemsley, former Chairman of The New York Cosmos, was very involved with his team and often spoke to the press. This next manifestation of the great Cosmos will have a new face, one that has yet to be announced. The question is not who it will be but if the person can be more effective at achieving the future plans for The New York Cosmos.