August 21, 2009
Source: Red Bulls are for sale
By Michael Lewis
Are the Red Bulls for sale -- again?
According to a reliable MLS source, the MLS club is talking to FC Barcelona.
That source is one damn good source who has his ear to the ground and knows what's happening in and around the league.
OK, before you say, here we go again, an explanation is needed.
Earlier this season, I heard from a good source -- another source than the originating one for this story that the team was for sale. I could not get anyone else to verify it, so I was forced to let it die on the vine, so to speak. Word got out there and rumors surfaced that the team was for sale.
On Thursday night, I spoke to that damn, good impeccable source and he told me the news.
"Barcelona is talking about buying the team," the source said, the team meaning the Red Bulls.
The source also said there probably is a good chance that are other parties that are talking as well.
"There are ongoing discussions for the future of the team for Red Bull to own it or not," the source told me.
The source also said that the No. 1 priority of commissioner Don Garber and the league office the past eight weeks was the New York franchise, now that the Philadelphia Union's financial concerns apparently have been righted.
I wish I had more details, how much money is being discussed, how far negotiations have progressed and what other organizations or companies are interested. But it is difficult to get information out of Red Bull from Salzburg, Austria.
As they say, half a loaf is better than none.
Asked to reply to this bit of information, the Red Bulls sent out a statement from managing director Erik Stover.
"The report that the New York Red Bulls are for sale is totally without merit," Stover said. "Though our 2009 season has been a disappointment on the pitch, we are still 100% committed to our goal of being successful in MLS. We have been clear that we have an ambitious plan for the organization and nothing has changed."
It isn't easy to sell anything in these difficult financial times and it doesn't help that the Red Bulls are enduring one of the worst seasons in MLS history at 2-16-4.
The Red Bulls are finishing their new soccer-specific facility in Harrison, N.J. -- the cost is more than $200 million -- which is set to open next spring.
The stadium isn't part of the deal, at least not what I have heard.
Michael Lewis would like to hear from you. If you have a comment, drop him a line at email.