Available(?): One used, slightly battered soccer club. Historic brand name with recent championship success. Small but passionate fanbase remaining. Big upside if restored to its past glory. A real fixer-upper.
Last week Jeff Rueter of The Athletic reported that the New York Cosmos would be going on hiatus for reasons related to the COVID pandemic. While there has still been no official confirmation from the club, First Team Podcast learned that some Cosmos players were informed the team would not be taking the field in the Spring 2021 NISA season. Midfield Press understands players have been told that the Cosmos will sit out all of 2021, both Spring and Fall NISA seasons.
When asked for a comment on the club’s status for 2021 and whether it is up for sale, a Cosmos official said, “We are still working with NISA to finalize our plans, so we don’t have anything official to announce at this time. Hopefully soon.”
Uncertainty has been one of the few constants for Cosmos fans in recent years, but sources suggest that the state of the club has reached its lowest point since December 2016. The Cosmos were at death’s door in December 2016 when Commisso swooped in to purchase the club, which based on court documents had an offer from Major League Soccer for $5M. An acquisition of the Cosmos by MLS likely would have seen the name mothballed.
While the pandemic may be the stated reason for the Cosmos hiatus, that is something that affects everyone and plenty of clubs continue to move forward. Owner Rocco Commisso’s loss of interest in the Cosmos has been increasingly apparent since his acquisition of Serie A’s ACF Fiorentina in 2019. The multi-billionaire is thought to be ready to give up the fight in US Soccer having found greener pastures in Europe. The timing is particularly unfortunate given the new stadium possibilities that recently came to light. Confidence that the Cosmos will ever return to the field under Commisso’s ownership is low among sources we spoke with. Unless Rocco Commisso has a change of heart, it would seem the best hope for the return of the Cosmos is under a new owner.
Just five years ago the Cosmos were the strongest professional soccer club in the United States outside of Major League Soccer, featuring international stars like Raul, Marcos Senna, Niko Kranjcar and Juan Arango in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Under the ownership of Seamus O’Brien and Sela Sport, the Cosmos won the second division NASL in 2013, 2015 and 2016 and defeated the New York area MLS teams three times in the US Open Cup. Under Commisso’s ownership, they lost the title in the NASL’s final season and then, after the de-sanctioning of the NASL and the launch of the related anti-trust lawsuit, spent a period in adult amateur soccer purgatory before returning briefly to the pro ranks with an underwhelming performance in the NISA Fall 2020 season. It appears that may be the final chapter of Rocco Commisso’s ownership of the Cosmos.
It remains unclear whether there will be new life for the Cosmos, but sources believe there will be strong interest in the historic club should it go on the market officially.