Mediacom Communications founder, chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso is close to purchasing iconic professional soccer franchise the New York Cosmos, with some reports claiming the cable baron could take control of the team as early as this week.
The Cosmos plan to hold a press conference tomorrow morning (Jan. 10) at 11:30 a.m. to offer an update on the team's plans for the 2017 season. No further details were available but sources familiar with the situation said it is likely the fete is to introduce new ownership.
The Cosmos, once the home of soccer legends Pele, Giorgio Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer during its heyday in the 1970s, has fallen on hard times of late, reportedly furloughing workers and deep in debt.
Currently owned by Sela Sports and One Word Sports owner Seamus O’Brien, the Cosmos have lost as much as $30 million over the past several years, according to some reports.
About six players have already left the club, including 2016 league MVP Juan Arango, to sign with other teams.
The team also has been looking for a permanent home – it previously held games at Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium in Long Island, but was ousted from that venue earlier. The team has been negotiating to play at MCU Park in Coney Island, N.Y., home of Class A minor league baseball team the Brooklyn Cyclones. The NASL regular season starts in April.
Commisso was seen as a savior for the team, which has been seeking a buyer for months.
One of the conditions of the deal was that the league the team plays in – the North American Soccer League – retain its Division II status with its parent league the MSL. That was achieved last Friday – governing body U.S. Soccer Federation granted provisional Division II status to the NASL as well as former Division III league the USL on Friday.
On its website, the Cosmos confirmed full participation in the NASL’s 2017 season, adding that the affirmation of the league’s Division II status “allows us to move forward with confidence.”
According to reports, Commisso was expected to pay back wages for players and front office staff once he assumed control of the team. O’Brien is expected to retain a minority interest.
Reports began to surface last week that Commisso was in line to purchase the Cosmos. A native of Calabria, Italy, Commisso was a college soccer star at Columbia University, where he served as co-captain of the soccer team in the 1970s and was invited to try out for the 1972 U.S. Olympic Soccer squad. Columbia named its soccer stadium after Commisso in 2013, acknowledging his strong support of the soccer program over the years. He is still an avid fan of the sport and is said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the game.