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MLS commissioner Don Garber takes an ill-advised cheap shot at an amateur soccer club

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The subject of promotion and relegation in the United States is a topic which never fails to get fans arguing, as the US is one of the few places on Earth in which that system isn't put into practice. I generally find myself on the side of the fence that doesn't care all that much if we ever see it happen exactly as it does in Europe, or simply let the game develop in its own way here in the States. The US market will eventually develop in a way that fans enjoy, and the top flight in the US will look quite a bit different than it does today 25 years from now.

Regardless, people on both sides of the argument occasionally say some very stupid things, and I get to have a good laugh out of said comments. Today, that laughter was provided by MLS Commissioner Don Garber:

"Promotion and relegation was created in the 1800s. It was a system that existed because there was no other way that existed to create good competition. They were amateur teams. If you were to create professional football in England or Italy or Spain today, I don't believe you'd have promotion and relegation. We need to create a league that works for the fan base in this market."

"Nobody looks at the NFL and says it's not working because there's no promotion and relegation."

"If you're investing billions and billions of dollars, which we are now at about $3.5 billion invested [in MLS] in twenty years, to build something in Kansas City and they have a shitty season, to think they might be playing in Chattanooga in a stadium of 4,000 people on a crappy field with no fans, makes no sense."

-Don Garber, BlazerCon

For what it's worth, Chattanooga FC play on a pretty good (turf) field, and drew 18,227 fans for their last match of the season, against New York Cosmos B. That figure is larger than the average attendance of seven current MLS franchises, and frankly, the pitch at Finley Stadium is much better than the one at Yankee Stadium. Want proof? Check out the highlights from the NPSL title match:

Look, I don't really care if Garber thinks pro/rel fits with the MLS structure or not. What that league is doing seems to be working for them, and to his point, it certainly produces parity and some highly entertaining matches. That said, if he's going to start taking shots at amateur sides in order to prove that point, he probably ought to pick one that doesn't have the ability to outdraw the Chicago Fire, or play on a better pitch than NYCFC. Chattanooga FC are quite literally the perfect example for fans of promotion and relegation to use to show that the system could easily work in the United States, not an example of why it wouldn't.