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The Re-Making of the New York Cosmos

Grant Wahl, America’s best soccer writer, posts a long interview transcript with Terry Byrne, best known as David Beckham‘s former manager and “best mate.” The self-made man has a new gig, however: Helping to bring back the New York Cosmos.

The legendary club featured Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and other massive names. They were hugely popular in New York, dominating Studio 54 and earning themselves a much-loved documentary. In 1985, they disappeared from the field.

But now, the Cosmos are coming back. Byrne, former Tottenham Hotspurs director Paul Kelmsley, and a few other executives are intent on making the Cosmos Major League Soccer’s 20th franchise in 2013.

In essence, this is a media, marketing, and branding story. How do you transform a franchise that exists in the hearts and minds into one that appears on the field?

Byrne has some thoughts.

How would you go about relaunching the Cosmos? For me, the key is you could develop a youth structure that gives you your feeder to the future, and you could build from the grassroots, from the bottom up. So the first project we carried out was to acquire an academy team, as well as signing Pelé as an honorary president. Over the last year we have assembled a very good structure internally.

But that’s just on the field. The harder part, arguably, is getting MLS to let them be the 20th franchise. The Wilpons, owners of the New York Mets, have expressed interest as well, but Byrne has a plan: make friends.

The commissioner has made it clear that [the Wilpons] are interested in building the stadium and would be willing to partner with us in potentially building that stadium. I don’t think they’re competitors. [Kemsley] has had a couple meetings with them. The vision is ideally to work with them.

Pretty soon, the Cosmos may be more than just a sweet tee shirt.

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