Could The Las Vegas Villains Become a Major MLS Franchise Next Season?

Could The Las Vegas Villains Become a Major MLS Franchise Next Season?

The Las Vegas Villains could become the latest MLS franchise when the league expands to 30 teams in 2023. The planned franchise is backed by billionaires Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris, the ambitious co-owners of Premier League club Aston Villa. The Midlands team is nicknamed the Villains, hence the proposed name for an expansion franchise from Las Vegas. Edens and Sawiris saved Aston Villa from the financial abyss as they bought a majority stake in the club back in 2018. They have bankrolled several lavish spending sprees over the past three years, helping Aston Villa secure promotion back to the Premier League and emerge as an impressive team, and now they have turned their focus to the MLS.

A Competitive Landscape

MLS chiefs are on the hunt for their latest expansion team after a bid from Sacramento fizzled out when a major investor abandoned the project. MLS commissioner Don Garber had approved the Sacramento Republic, so many fans were shocked to see the bid fall apart. However, interest in the league remains high across the country, and several cities are interested in creating MLS franchises. There are currently 27 teams in the league, but Charlotte and St. Louis have already secured expansion franchises, leaving just one remaining slot available as the MLS plans to increase to 30 teams in 2023. Phoenix and San Diego are leading expansion candidates, but there is also serious interest from Detroit, Indianapolis and Louisville, while Sacramento could still resurrect its bid. It is a very competitive landscape, but Las Vegas could have the edge.

Trademark Registration Lodged

Edens and Sawiris went to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the name “Las Vegas Villains” in case they emerge victorious. They could certainly make a compelling case to the league. For starters, NHL expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights has been a roaring success. The club went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in its debut season, and it remains a very competitive team. The team has enjoyed passionate support from fans, and it has fully vindicated the NHL’s decision to award the city a team. NFL team the Raiders moved from Oakland to Las Vegas last year, further highlighting the Sin City’s potential as a major sporting hub.

Success in England

Then there is the presence of Edens and Sawiris, an American businessman and an Egyptian tycoon. Sawiris is the world’s richest Arab and the second richest Egyptian, according to Forbes, and he is not afraid to put his hand in his pocket when it comes to backing his sports teams. Edens and Sawiris own the Milwaukee Bucks, who just won the NBA championship, so they know what it takes to run a successful U.S. franchise. They also have a wealth of valuable experience when it comes to soccer. Aston Villa, one of the proudest and most successful clubs in history, was teetering towards extinction when they took over the club. Yet they turned things around, and had the team back in the Premier League within a year of taking the reins. They spent a record-breaking £143.5 million ($197.5 million) that summer, the heaviest investment in history from a newly promoted club, and managed to just about avoid relegation. Last summer, they spent big again, bringing in the likes of Ollie Watkins, Bertrand Traoré and Emiliano Martinez. Aston Villa secured a respectable mid-table finish in the world’s richest and most competitive soccer league, and they just enjoyed another strong summer in the transfer market, with many pundits tipping the team to secure a top-half finish this time around. MLS chiefs could take one look at Villa’s ascent and know that they are dealing with highly competent owners that know how to create a strong franchise, so Vegas could be in the lead for the coveted spot in 2023.
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