NEW YORK – Major League Soccer Friday announced a new timeline for the inaugural seasons of three of the four expansion clubs.
The new timeline is the result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the commencement of business operations and stadium development of these clubs and will give the clubs an appropriate timeline for a successful launch.
Austin FC remains on schedule to begin competition in 2021 as planned. Charlotte, originally scheduled to begin MLS play next season, will ebut in 2022. St. Louis and Sacramento will start in 2023 instead of 2022.
The decision was made by MLS commissioner Don Garber, in conjunction with the league’s Expansion Committee.
Austin FC, which unveiled in August 2018 and was formally announced in January 2019 — well ahead of the other expansion teams — remains on schedule to debut in next year. The club had made significant progress on its sporting, business, and stadium objectives before the onset of the pandemic.
“We have always taken a thoughtful and strategic approach to our expansion planning and have delivered successful launches for every new club,” Garber said in a statement. “It is important for each club to take the necessary time to launch their inaugural MLS seasons the way their fans and communities deserve. With the extra year to make up for what has been a challenging 2020, these teams will be well-positioned for their debuts and for long-term success.”
Charlotte, St. Louis and Sacramento were awarded MLS expansion teams in the second half of 2019. Owned by David Tepper, Charlotte’s MLS team was announced in December.
Sacramento Republic FC, owned by Ron Burkle, Matt Alvarez and Kevin Nagle, were granted an expansion team in October.
Led by Carolyn Kindle Betz and the first female majority ownership in league history, St. Louis was awarded an MLS team in August.