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Chivas USA sale talk persists

The Mexican newspaper Record is reporting that Major League Soccer is planning to buy out Chivas USA owner Jorge Vergara and take control of the troubled franchise, which has the worst record in the Western Conference, the league's worst attendance and no local TV broadcasts of its games.

The lack of a local TV deal might be the opening the league needs to force Vergara out, because fellow club owners could charge him with failing to comply with "basic expectations" of MLS clubs. The league has frequently denied that it has any desire to interfere with the way Chivas USA is being run, and Commissioner Don Garber has been a vocal supporter of Vergara in the past.

But after a favorable start this season, the team has once again fallen to the bottom of the standings. With an average home attendance of 8,035 -- a 38% drop from last year's average of 13,056 -- the league, or at least other owners, might be losing patience.

If Vergara does give up the team, numerous media reports last month identified Mexican businessman Carlos Slim as a potential buyer of Chivas USA and Chivas of Guadalajara, the Mexican league team Vergara also owns. Record reported three weeks ago that such a deal, which would include the Mexican team's new state-of-the-art stadium, would be worth $700 million.

Another possible scenario would see MLS brokering a deal for Chivas USA in order to move the franchise.

In the past, MLS spokesmen have dismissed that idea, pointing to the fact that only one team has been relocated in the league's 17-year history. But with the league's long quest to place a second franchise in metro New York reportedly nearing a successful end, MLS is likely to put a freeze on expansion, making existing franchises more valuable.

Orlando and Miami were both considered to be attractive locations for MLS, which does not have a franchise in the Southeast. But that idea took a hit two weeks ago when the Florida House of Representatives killed a bill that would have provided funding for a proposed MLS stadium in Orlando as well as renovations to Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

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