New investor da Silva has big plans for Orlando City, including hard push for MLS

By VINCE MADURI

ORLANDO, Fla.– On Monday, Orlando City unveiled new owner Flávio Augusto da Silva, a Brazilian businessman who is the third largest shareholder of media giant Abril Educação.  The announcement comes as the latest in several strategic moves the club hopes will position it to gain admittance to Major League Soccer in 2015.

Club president Phil Rawlins says the move gives Orlando City “a complete platform to build on moving forward.”

“Soccer is not a sport of the future in the US.  It is a reality,” da Silva said during his press conference before highlighting Major League Soccer’s stellar attendance figures in comparison with the rest of the world (the league is 7th in all attendance on the planet).

The Brazilian said he and his business partner, Alexandre Leitão of Octagon Brazil, chose Orlando over several other cities after they decided to invest in American soccer, more specifically the MLS.

“I received three different cities that [a research firm I hired] believed would be a great opportunity to start a new franchise,” da Silva said after the press conference.  “These three cities are located here in the southeastern [United States].  But we chose Orlando because, first of all, Brazilians love Orlando.  But also because Orlando is a great city to invest in soccer, mainly because Orlando City already has more than 7,000 average fans per game in attendance.  So, we are miles ahead compared to the other cities, so we decided to invest in Orlando.”

Da Silva said he hopes eventually to make Orlando City a “global brand” that benefits both the Orlando economy as well as Brazil.

“Brazil has a special desire to come to the US.  The most visited city in the US by Brazilians is Orlando.  So, we are sure that having a soccer team to come watch would be very attractive to the Brazilians.  They could buy the tickets in Brazil, the same way they buy tickets to Disney or Universal they could buy tickets to Orlando City especially if they have a Brazilian superstar in the team.”

Regarding the Brazilian superstar, the new Orlando City owner says they hope to bring a “Brazilian Beckham” to the team by 2015 or 2016 following the World Cup and once Orlando is admitted to Major League Soccer.

“We have many people in mind but we have one especially.  I can’t tell you who right now obviously, but soon we are going to [announce] which great player we plan on bringing.”

Until last week, Flávio Augusto chaired the Ometz Group, with 16 holding companies, including the country’s leading English language schools for adults, Wise Up (FIFA World Cup Sponsor). On February 7th, the Ometz Group was acquired by Abril Educação, one of Brazil’s largest media companies. Today, Mr. da Silva still leads the Wise Up Group and is also the third largest shareholder in Abril Educação. As part of the acquisition, Mr. da Silva will oversee the development of Abril Educação operations around the world.

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63 Responses to New investor da Silva has big plans for Orlando City, including hard push for MLS

  1. Bobb says:

    Great news… first step if they want to be taken seriously. Next, change the “my son made this with crayons” logo. Of course that goes for 95% of lower division US teams (with the exceptions being Minnesota and NY Cosmos).

  2. pgloerse says:

    Orlando:
    Investors – check. fans – check. community support – check. progress in getting a new stadium built – check.

    MLS:
    Let’s build our own stadium in New York.

    • T-lover says:

      New York is a huge market. MLS knows it needs two teams in that market. I like Orlando city,but I still worry after seeing a couple former MLS clubs fail in the past.

    • KFC says:

      Orlando: come for the MLS, stay for the cougars.

    • steve says:

      the cosmos are taking care of the new york stadium. i bet orlando and the cosmos join mls in the same year. way to go orlando

    • pgloerse says:

      Until recently I would not have disagreed but being a native Floridian living in Orlando there has been a marked change in our demographics and interest in soccer. This is not the same situation as Miami or Tampa. Orlando is now the 3rd largest metro area in Florida behind Miami and Tampa and is not slowing down. This is a winning situation for MLS.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Cosmos are a joke. Have fun schlepping out to Hofstra. Assuming your “team” actually plays any games at some point, instead of simply trying to cash in on a overrated past. Clowns.

  3. jonk says:

    I appreciate his candor, but it’s still pretty hilarious to read that Brazilian Beckham comment. I think mainly because “Brazilian Beckham” is a ridiculous combination of words I never thought I’d hear. Anyway, he must be thinking of Kaka, right? He’ll still only be 32 or 33 if Orlando gets into MLS by 2015 or 2016.

    • foooo says:

      what’s ridiculous about “Brazilian Beckham?”

      • jonk says:

        I know he means “Brazilian Beckham” in the sense of a Designated Player, but there have now been so many DPs and nobody in MLS calls it the Beckham rule anymore so my first reaction was to interpret his comment in the context of how people will say “the American Messi” to talk up some rising talent…and in that context, it would be ridiculous to link Brazilian and Beckham.

    • sly says:

      Redo the “chivas experiment” with Brazilians…

      Joking but wow it would be interesting. Raid flamenco and Santos academy 4 older players world cup veterans. Why not American Shaktar. Brazilians in attack American defenders.

      I was joking but I’m wondering why not.

    • Beto says:

      Beckinho he is 14 and living somewhere in brazil right now but in 7 years from now… Watch out mls!

  4. Drew says:

    Kaka? Ronaldinho? Would this even be a better idea than giving it to NYC? .I’m not convinced it is.

    • Brian says:

      Of course it isn’t but he’s doing the typical owner thing: making fantastic promises now to acheive his goal (i.e. new stadium, expansion franchise, etc.) and letting everyone down later. Tried and true.

  5. bring NASL to El Paso tx says:

    MLS needs more owners like Da Silva in the league, since American rich owner groups want to support European leagues but when is Garber going to ever “beg” American rich pockets. For example, big cities which are big markets should have owners like Da Silva in order to take advantage of the market. Look at Seattle, i love their stadium but they need their own ( Im not a hater) and it is so sad that Seattle cant get a beckham deal. MLS owners need to take MLS to the next level, even though the salary is low but at least get 3dps, for example Chicago, DC, Seattle, Portland, (Colorado Rapids only one team in the state), Dallas and Houston can easily get south american or Mexican top players, New England move closer to Boston. In reality i just see Columbus, Chivas USA, San Jose, Salt Lake in trouble when trying to get DPs, unless their owners use their wallet and of course every team needs their own SSS.

    • T-lover says:

      The sounders got some very wealthy owners. Saviola is rumored to be headed there as well. Also not a sounders fan, but they fill up their stadium to 40,000 plus a game, why change? The stadium is in a perfect location.

      • steve says:

        sounders are fine where they are. the kraft family is rich enough to keep the revs in that cavernous stadium. do they simply need a tax write off?

    • leobriseno says:

      Rsl just got.a new local deep pocket owner. Seattle doesnt need a beckham they just need someone to score goals. Columbus needs a wizards type revamp. Chivas usa is perfect for east l.a with there new motto. San Jose has a great outlook with there new stadium next year. So hopefully by 2015 will have a Dc united stadium, An orlando franchise with new stadium, and an incoming New York team. Ohhh maan I cant wait. I love Mls. New England I pray you seriously move to Boston.

    • H-town says:

      RSL, Houston, and Columbus all have won MLS Cups using the current formula that they have always used, ie dont waste a ton of cap space on 3 players, spread the wealth to a 9-11 above average players. Additionally, those three team allowed players to PROVE their worth on the pitch and then moved certain players into DP level money. Saborio, Boniek Garcia (DP only because of transfer fee), Schelotto. Those teams base their philosophy on “team first”, not star-studded lineups. San Jose is a dang good team, they are just a step or two away.

      The proof is in the pudding.

      Chivas USA, on the other hand, is a disaster, but it has nothing to do with DPs or SSSs. It has everything to do with terrible ownership.

    • Old School says:

      I don’t care to find the list and provide it but there are a surprising amount of “rich American owners” within MLS.

      Problem is they don’t want to spend the cash and/or have the general salary cap to deal with.

    • tw says:

      I’m skeptical of this Da Silva guy and think your comment is off base, and is just another version of “spend more money!”. Ok smart guy, who should we buy? Can you guarantee they would come? Rumor is Seattle went after Diego Forlan hard, but it didn’t work out. Was Rafa Marquez worth it? There another problem that Beckham faced and most top players would face – coming to MLS may jeopardize their int’l career.

      I’m glad MLS has a cadre of proven businessmen. If signing a big name player makes sense they’d do it. By making them spend more to where it was unprofitable, you would be driving those savvy business people away.

  6. bring NASL to El Paso tx says:

    As for the expansion game- I think the league will stop at 24 or 26 (even number). As for realistic available markets which the east has Miami, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, NC, Minnesota, Detroit, Baltimore, St.Louis and the west Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Antonio (realistic markets, not dream markets)
    The MLS by 2018 or 2019 with 22 teams
    West:
    Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, LA Galaxy, Chivas USA, Salt Lake, Colorado, Dallas, Houston, Kansas,
    East:
    Montreal, Toronto, NY RB, NY#2, Columbus, Chicago, DC, NE, Philly, Orlando, Miami with Becks or Tampa Bay with VSI,

    • slowleftarm says:

      Can’t have that many teams. Time for MLS2 with pro/rel.

      • bring NASL to El Paso tx says:

        Yes, with the size of the country, MLS can esily handle 24 to 26 teams and NASL can take 20 teams and USL Pro 18. As for pro/rel that will come in 10 to 20 years and I can assure you that MLS will go to the winter-spring schedule before pro/rel since MLS will have more southern teams. As a matter of fact, the winter-spring schedule would make more money for the league (with winter break ) and SUM, due to international play and the MLS vs European friendlies in the summer. In reality MLS needs 26 teams, 13 in each conference with inter play, plus playoffs, concacaf champions, US open cup and maybe libertadores. This is not rocket science and in reality, MLS plays during college football season, college basketball and march madness, golf, nascar season, MLB and NHL season and of course NFL. If MLS can get enough southern teams like 6 or 8, it would actually work and even make a tournament during the winter break for MLS teams, in open markets vs Asian teams like in Hawaii.

        • el paso tx says:

          Sounds good but I think u mean- summer to spring schedule and NASL please come to el paso texas- a dumb local ownership is bringing triple A baseball stadium downtown and they plan to bring Nasl and supposedly even MLS. Will take Nasl first anytime!!!!

      • Brian says:

        I love that we have so many cities and/or owners that want MLS teams.I know the economics of the system (selling franchises) makes it hard to change but the environment is screaming for promotion/relegation. If they want an MLS team, let them battle it out in a lower division for a team. And once they get to MLS, let them battle it out to stay in MLS.

        I say cap the MLS top flight at 20 teams.

        • jonk says:

          Sure, but how many want USL/NASL/MLS2 teams? And that lower division is going to have to exist for like a decade, at least, with a whole bunch of viable teams. Basically, it’d be like launching a whole new MLS and waiting 10-15 years for it to incubate into a strong enough league that Pro/Rel makes sense.

          • Brian says:

            True, but one of the reasons people are lining up for lower division teams is because the incentive isn’t currently there.

            How many of these places would step up to form teams if pro/rel was the established route to MLS? Not all but definitely some. A few of the NASL teams are already in places where the locals claim to want MLS teams: NY Cosmos, Minnesota, Atlanta, San Antonio. Let the cream rise to the top.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so naive as to think it is a switch that can be flipped to make it so. But I still think the greatest obstacle is protecting the interests of the people who have paid the entry fee, not the lack of interest.

        • Brian says:

          Just to add one more point, I do think that Garber, as a guy who spent some time with the NFL, thinks the league can grow to at least 30 teams.

          • Harry says:

            yes, we know

            we have an NFL guy who admitted he wasn’t even a soccer fan running our soccer league.

            there’s a reason no other d1 in soccer has more than 20 teams. It’s called watering down your product.

            MLS can’t even get American soccer fans to watch it now. You really think they’ll get the traditional fan if they continue to go the NFL is soccer route?

      • Bobb says:

        Every other major North American sports league has 30-32 teams.
        There’s no reason MLS should be different. Right now, they are barely in half the major metropolitan areas.

        • CplDaniel says:

          Every other major American sport league does not have to compete with established foreign leagues attracting world-class talent in the prime of their careers. If I’m going to spend time watching a sport, why not watch the best? Why should I spend my limited time and money watching AAA baseball if I can flip on the TV and watch MLB? Soccer isn’t every other sport. Things that help other leagues in America, don’t help, or even work against the soccer league as a business in America. You can’t fit hours worth of commercial time into each game like you can with the NFL. And we were not the first to establish a commercial league in a given sport like Baseball/football.

          • Mike says:

            its obvious that you have never been to a live game. Yeah watching TV is great but going to a live game and supporting your local team is the best experience. fuck off and go keep being a Eurosnob. =)

    • drew11 says:

      Most likely scenario is that FL will only get one team unless somebody pays crazy money for Miami. No chance for TPA and Orlando. They are less than 2 hours apart. MN is getting into a good position with a the new Vikings stadium. Keep an eye on that situation.

    • Harry says:

      24? 26?

      NO NO NO and NO

      stop at 20 and then work on D2 for pro/rel in 8-10 yrs

      • Gnarls says:

        Fans will always want pro/rel, but the guys with the money – the owners – will never go for it. Maybe we’ll get it in fifty years when soccer is the most population sport in the US (it is a demographic inevitability), but nothing within the next 10-20 years.

        Imagine investing several hundred million dollars into a franchise – with the full expectation that that team will play in the top flight with the most TV and media exposure – and then having your investment relegated to a lesser-exposed league. It’s a deal-breaker in America.

  7. Dasdude says:

    Please someone invest in Miami

  8. Harry says:

    join NASL . It’s a growing league

    then in 10 years if NASL is stable with 18 clubs in SSS we can have pro/rel.

    • Gnarls says:

      You see the error in that logic, right? All of the NASL fans and owners would be stoked with their team is promoted to division 1, and all of the MLS fans and owners will be super pissed with their team is relegated to division 2. It’s a deal breaker for MLS, pure and simple. There is so much more involved than simply playing in a lower division: less (or no) TV broadcasts, less overall media exposure, and most importantly, less money.

  9. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    $50million? but do we get salary cap increase with that? an increase 250k would be fair!

    • Harry says:

      get rid of the salary cap

      There is no need for it. Replace it with Financial Fair Play to prevent clubs from bankruptcy.

      The salary cap = lower quality play on the field.

  10. Nigel says:

    One more time now:

    ATL, ASAP! Atlanta Chiefs FC!

  11. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    Miami would be terrible market. People didn’t know Funsion existed.

  12. CJ says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. This hype is just the usual USL smoke-blowing. Full credit to them if they eventually pull it off, but we’ve been burned before.

    • meh says:

      “I’ll believe it when I see it. This hype is just the usual USL smoke-blowing. Full credit to them if they eventually pull it off, but we’ve been burned before.”

      Indeed. Didn’t OCSC originally claim they had big British investors who were going to take them into MLS? What happened to them? Did they disappear or get cold feet? Is that why Rawlins had to attract this new Brazilian investor? It’s amazing how Rawlins can keep spinning this going-to-MLS-real-soon-now hype without losing any credibility no matter how many times the story changes. He may get it done or he may not be able to keep juggling all the balls in the air at the same time for much longer. He wouldn’t be the first one to talk a good game but come up short.

  13. Charles says:

    Oh boy the demotion boys with their, “We don’t want everybody to be in the top division” comments have invaded.

    MLS will NOT stop at twenty teams, end of story.
    You can cry, complain, whatever.
    It iis not happening.

    Your best hope is for MLS to go for forty and then you can start hoping to hold cities down in second division at 41.

    • Lost in Space says:

      30 – 40 teams….
      2 Conferences..West & East (20 per)..play conference matches for the regular season.
      Builds rivalries…easier travel schedule…fans have teams to support near home.
      Playoffs become West Vs. East
      Winner: Fans, Players, League.

  14. Tino says:

    1. MLS will not work in the Southeast. They have tried and failed. Nothing has changed in the past 10 years.
    2. This guy’s business plan is to have Brazilians buy tickets in Brazil and fly to Orlando? That is a going out of business strategy. You need to create loyalty locally. This is not a tourist industry.
    3. If MLS didn’t work in the 2 largest markets in Florida, why would it work in the 3rd largest?
    4. The Latin demographic is notoriously fickle and do NOT buy season tickets.
    5. The most loyal MLS region in the US is the northwest. Why is that? The Northwest is always an “alternative” crowd. They migrate to the non-mainstream. Soccer is non-mainstream in the US. Market to middle to upper class Americans who buy season tickets. That is the only way for success in MLS.

  15. Pio says:

    May make more sense to bring an MLS to Miami. Then again, we don’t have the best track record for supporting soccer down here.