Robert Kraft is one of the most successful NFL owners in history. His New England Patriots have won five Super Bowls since 2001 and Kraft’s ownership over the past 20 plus years has been instrumental.
Kraft also owns MLS’ New England Revolution, which seems to get the short end of the stick in Robert’s eyes. It’s clear Kraft still loves soccer as he at one point helped save MLS from going under, but they currently play in Gillette Stadium that is over 50% empty and has artificial turf. In other words, while it may not be the case, there is a perception that the Kraft family pretty much ignores their MLS team in favor of their NFL team.
That doesn’t seem to stop Kraft from soccer ownership though as he revealed to BBC Sport that he is still “very intrigued” with owning a Premier League team. One thing that has kept Kraft from going all the way and owning a team is he’s turned off by a lack of a salary cap.
“I like to win at whatever I do. But without a salary cap I’m concerned that we might be at a disadvantage.”
Robert Kraft is rich but even he’s not “oil rich” like Manchester City is. Surely, he has seen what the Glazer family has done with Manchester United and Fenway Sports Group has done with Liverpool and has seen that it is a far different beast than anything. Kraft even flirted with owning Liverpool back in 2005 but didn’t and would eventually be sold to his Boston baseball owner counterpart John Henry after a failed ownership stint with George Gillett and Tom Hicks which the less we talk about those two, the better.
Kraft talks about MLS and his ownership with the Revs.
“We helped found MLS in America. Our league here is starting to really develop, and with our soccer team we’ve gone to the championship game five times [and lost all five] in 21 years.”
Maybe Kraft needs to be reminded that his MLS team is in need for improvement. They are the only team who hasn’t seemed to move on from the awkward MLS 1.0 era where teams played in NFL stadiums that were mostly empty. The Revs need a rebrand, they need a new stadium, they need better youth development and a better academy and they need a manager and better team. Sure, there’s only so much the Revs can do, especially with a new soccer specific stadium in Boston due to government red tape.
But it seems that the Kraft family largely ignores the New England Revolution for the benefit of the Patriots. And that might be a great strategy because the Patriots and the NFL is far more profitable and newsworthy. But if that day ever comes that Robert Kraft buys a Premier League team, hopefully he has the foresight to sell the Revs for the greater good of that team and MLS as a whole.
It happened in Kansas City. Sporting Club, led by Robb Heineman bought the Wizards from Lamar Hunt and his family in 2006. And because the Hunt family owned two other MLS teams and the Chiefs at that time, while it must’ve hurt them to sell the Wizards, they needed a lot of work that seemed much similar to the Revolution now. Slowly but surely, the Wizards became Sporting KC, built a world class soccer specific stadium and training facility, are in the process of contributing to US Soccer’s training and coaching center. And within the past 11 years, Sporting KC has won four trophies, including an MLS Cup.
Maybe the New England Revolution could be that next success story. We’ll see.