It’s a little like breaking the news that the sun will rise today or, perhaps, that politicians are corrupt. It’s expected and, frankly, when it happens, no one is really all that surprised. So when I got a call Thursday from a source to tell me the Montreal Impact had reached an agreement with MLS to join the league, my reaction was, “Well, that makes sense.”
President Joey Saputo and the Impact have been dancing with the MLS for months. It was less a tango and more like a Grade 8 prom — lots of stumbling and plenty of awkwardness.
Montreal could have closed this deal in 2008 if not for financial commitment issues from its partners, but now it appears the deal is done and Montreal will be joining MLS in 2012.
Three independent sources have confirmed that Montreal has agreed on the $35-million US expansion fee and the team will be announced this March.
Meanwhile, the Impact are still waiting on an announcement from the Quebec government, who they are counting on for a $25-million boost to renovate Saputo Stadium, where the Impact play.
The Liberals, the controlling party there, have been frozen for months, worried over how the public would view funding a soccer stadium in the midst of a recession.
But, according to sources, that concern, much like the recession, is starting to thaw. The province, a longtime sponsor of the team through its Hydro-Quebec arm, is prepared to commit funding to the stadium.
After accepting an invitation to attend the MLS Cup festivities, Saputo spent the past weekend in Seattle, meeting with league officials to finalize the deal.
The Impact will pay less than the original $40-million US asking price but will enter the league a year after Vancouver and will be faced with a myriad of domestic player issues as they wade into the shallow Canadian player pool.
– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca; email@example.com
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