Don Garber, Major League Soccer commissioner since 1999, has signed a new five-year deal to stay in the position until 2018.
Garber, who has overseen a dramatic expansion of the American sport while stabilizing existing teams and markets, announced the contract extension to SI.com:
“It’s the first five-year deal I’ve signed in 15 years. Every other deal was a three-year deal,” said Garber, who took the job in 1999 after spending 16 years as an NFL executive. “I had always been of the mind that you sign three-year deals so you can give everybody the flexibility to determine what you want to do. The league was younger and less mature. Now we’re teeing up a long-term commitment to each other.”…
Garber will be 61 at the end of his new contract, but he demurred on whether he’d like to stick around beyond that.
“At some point in year three or four I’ll sit down and determine whether I go beyond 20 years, but 20 years is a long time to do any one job.”
Since coming to MLS from the NFL, Garber has overseen the addition of new teams and several new stadiums, including those in Kansas City and Philadelphia (Harrison, N.J.), before embarking on a plan for MLS to be at 24 teams by 2020. The league will be at 21 teams next season after the addition of Orlando City and New York City FC, and given all the interest in further expansion teams, hitting 24 by or perhaps even before 2020 is certainly a reasonable goal.
Garber also passed along some other good news in the SI.com interview: After undergoing treatment for prostate cancer earlier this year, recent tests have indicated he is now cancer-free. “I’m feeling good,” Garber told SI.com. “I took a break during the month of August that allowed me to effectively recover. Now I’m back in the saddle and energized.”