GOAL - Ryan Tolmich
Major League Soccer announced on Thursday that the league plans to expand to 30 teams in the coming years.
The original plan unveiled in December 2015 saw the league focus on 28 teams, but the decision to push on to 30 was made by owners at Board of Governors meetings held in Los Angeles.
The league has not yet made an official decision on which markets will be included, but the Commissioner’s office has been authorized to push forward with discussions with Sacramento and St. Louis ownership groups over their expansion proposals.
Both Sacramento and St. Louis, long seen as MLS favorites , will make presentations to MLS executives detailing stadium plans, ownership groups, economic proposals and player development ideas.
The league currently has agreements in place with 27 ownership groups, with the MLS season currently underway with 24 teams with the likes of Austin FC, Inter Miami FC and Nashville SC set to join the league in the coming years.
“Professional soccer at all levels is thriving in the United States and Canada and we believe there are many markets that could support a successful MLS club,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement.
“Expansion during the last 15 years has been enormously successful and a key driver behind the league’s continued rise, and we are pleased that some of the top business and community leaders representing great markets in North America are aggressively pursuing MLS expansion clubs.”
In addition to the ongoing discussions with the likes of Sacramento and St. Louis, MLS said in a statement that the league "remains in discussion with several other ownership groups in other cities".
The expansion fee for the 28th and 29th clubs was set at $200 million (£155 million) with the expansion fee required for the 30th club yet to be determined.
David Beckham's Inter Miami is set to begin play in 2020 alongside Nashville while Austin FC will join one year later.