March 8th, 2011
07:26 AM GMT
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“The New York Cosmos are back!” shouts the PR machine behind the rebirth of the American soccer club into the brave new world of global football.

But back doing what?

A Cosmos player hasn’t kicked a ball since the mid-1980s, the club currently has no players, no stadium and no games to play. But you can buy the new team shirt.

The relaunch of U.S. football’s most razzmatazz team then seems to be more a modern exercise in brand building as it does about bringing another football club to Major League Soccer in North America.

Founded 40 years ago the club had been defunct since the demise of the North American Soccer League in 1984.  Cosmos was resurrected by a group of investors led by club chairman Paul Kemsley, who bought the name and rights in 2009. The aim is to reignite the allure the Cosmos had when football legends Pele and Franz Beckenbauer  played  for  the team in their mid-1970s heyday before resuming professional play at some point .

But not too much is being publically said on how the team will be assembled or when they may be admitted to the MLS. Instead, during this week’s “goodwill tour” to Asia, there’s been a greater emphasis on the star quality the Cosmos could bring to the game.

Pele is back with the club as Honorary President (could the new Cosmos motto be: “We’ve still got Pele!”?), and he was joined in Singapore and Hong Kong by actor and former French footballing enigma Eric Cantona as the club’s Director of Soccer.

“We are excited to visit Asia… and to let everyone know that the New York Cosmos are back. We will continue to integrate Asia in all that we do,” said Paul Kemsley earlier this week.

By leading some football clinics for youngsters on the tour, Cantona could at least justify his title and the Cosmos could hold to one of their stated goals of developing young talent and developing their academies.

But Asia’s main attraction for football clubs (even those that don’t have a team) is as a vast marketplace where millions of fans are hungry for live matches and happy to buy into a team’s success and savvy marketing.

Manchester United, Real Madrid plus numerous less illustrious clubs take a week or two during the off-season to play exhibition matches in Asia and help boost their brand through dedicated TV channels and merchandise.

And there’s the big money TV rights. English Premier League rights in Singapore were sold for around $325 million for the 2010 to 2013 seasons; i-Cable in Hong Kong bought the rights for $240 million.

Teams from Major League Soccer currently don’t have that kind of draw or global revenue potential even with the addition of international stars, like Thierry Henry for the New York Red Bulls, or brands in their own right, like David Beckham with the LA Galaxy.

So even without a team the Cosmos might have an advantage over many of their prospective MLS rivals. If they can cultivate an international fanbase over the next couple of years  before their team has even kicked a ball and then add some much needed swagger to the staid and average quality of MLS, the club’s goals and revenue could be world-beating.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Dr Chandrashekarankootysivananathankuttynathansamymotobaba

    Good article.

    March 8, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  2. Alistair

    They need 3 things a soccer stadium a backer like the Nets owner and talented players.

    March 8, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  3. Chris

    I hope they can somehow get into MLS. It's been a long time, would be great to have the Cosmos playing again.

    March 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  4. NYer

    If the Cosmos came back I'd instantly be a fan. I'd much rather root for a club with some history that's not named after an energy drink.

    March 9, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  5. Tee

    Cantona is a legend, he is one of the greatest players from one of the most storied clubs. That would be like calling Mike Tyson an actor.

    March 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  6. NYer2

    Interesting comment NYer.........New Yorks MLS team has been playing longer than the Cosmos ever played. Now..quick, go buy a cosmos jersey!

    March 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  7. aaron in miami

    "If they can cultivate an international fanbase over the next couple of years before their team has even kicked a ball and then add some much needed swagger to the staid and average quality of MLS, the club’s goals and revenue could be world-beating."

    Written like someone who's never actually watched an MLS game.

    March 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  8. NYCosmos4Life

    I remember when the Cosmos Campaign began ten years ago to get the Cosmos in MLS. Than the Borough Boys took it over and now Kelmsley and his backers. I hope they can finally get them back, it looks VERY positive. Hopefully Garber is smart and realizes this would be the best thing MLS could do for itself, for soccer in the NYC area and for the growth of the sport.

    March 9, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  9. CVE

    Not sure MLS could support another team let alone another New York team. If the goal is to canabalize Red Bulls, that's a different story. Otherwise, this is limited to an interesting branding exercise. I don't think Pele would be involved unless there was something more than a pay check involved. There must be much more to the story.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  10. SOB

    I really do hope they become the next team, for me to DOOP on! C'mon the U!

    March 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  11. Shehzad

    Come on COSMOS ... go for it you will be up once again.. u have to struggle to get good Stadium and Talented player.. i will be a fan of your Club.. Best of luck COSMOS !!!!!

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    March 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  12. Wilson

    the Cosmos are more than just a brand, they are a legend and i think it can be the beginning of soccer ruling in America.. NyCosmosNation.Com

    March 12, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  13. Locode

    Why don't they just buy the Red Bulls(hit) and rename them?

    March 13, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  14. Dennis Justice

    Cosmos would ruin themselves in Mediocre League Soccer. FIFA restricts the top tier to 20 teams yet Major in name only League Soccer insists on never going to promotion and relegation, nor will do anything about developing a second-tier. So no team in St. Louis, Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Francisco, Orlando, etc., but the rest of us should just follow the Cosmos? Sorry, no.

    Cosmos would be regarded as the biggest sell-outs in soccer history if they actually go through with joining that sham of a league.

    March 13, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  15. Ant

    "The NY Red Bulls of Harrison NJ are the only original MLS franchise to have failed to win any significant trophy (be it league, cup, or knockout competition) since inception."

    Get rid of the Red Bull logo, have them Sponsor the Cosmos, let Red Bull keep they're name on the stadium.

    If not, we can just use The Meadowlands like the good ole days. Harrison wouldn't be able to hold 50-70 thousand people that would actually show up to a Cosmos game.

    June 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  16. asian bridal

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    May 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

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