Yesterday, Mexico's Record published an article saying that Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, was in negotiations to purchase the Chivas empire, which would include Chivas de Guadalajara, the Estadio Omnilife in Guadalajara, and Chivas USA. The reported asking price is a cool $700 million, with Chivas USA apparently on offer for $200 million.
I'll say that again: the report is that Chivas USA is for sale for $200 million.
The mooted franchise fee of a 20th MLS team has long been rumored to be $100 million, so Jorge Vergara certainly wants to get a staggering amount out of a club that has from all appearances been a throwaway concern for essentially its entire existence.
If the report out of Mexico is true (and that is a humongous if, remember, Vergara angrily quashed rumors of the same sale taking place in January, only that time for the rumored price of $500 million), then there could be many twists and turns in the future of Chivas USA. Even the article from Record acknowledges that Chivas USA is not exactly a hot commodity, and Slim may not really be interested in taking over the MLS club. Of course, I could be pessimistic about this, since over at Pro Soccer Talk, Joe Prince-Wright thinks this could usher in the new, glorious era of Chivas USA that we have all been eagerly awaiting.
That would be long in the offing, and remains to be seen. Slim has emerged as a growing power in Liga MX in recent years, including ownership stakes in Pachuca and Club Leon. He has also ventured into the U.S. in business (though not sports) ventures, including a widely-publicized purchase in a stake of The New York Times. If the deal did go through, and if Slim did have the interest in running Chivas USA, I would imagine spending would go up substantially from its current bottom-dwelling level, and who knows, even that stadium we've all been desperate for in Southern California. Of course, Slim could also choose to dump Chivas USA to the first buyer, which could even be MLS itself, and the future of the club in Los Angeles could be in doubt.
Meanwhile, if the report is true, my theory that Vergara has been slashing costs in order to get ready for a sale seems to make absolute sense. Come on, nobody takes over complete control of a team, promises the moon and the stars, and then puts the bare minimum of investment in players and slashes the marketing budget to nothing. Furthermore, the fact that Chivas USA is still in violation of the league's requirement for teams to have local TV deals a full eight weeks into the season may be because this sale is on deck and MLS is letting Vergara slide until the new owner comes in.
It is mostly speculation at this point, but we'll keep track of the developments of this story, if they emerge. It seems like a plausible story, but that doesn't mean it is true. Stay tuned.
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