Cantona aims to make Cosmos shine again


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The Independent Football

Eric Cantona's appointment at the New York Cosmos franchise is expected to be the beginning of a revolution in which the Cosmos eventually challenge the salary cap that has become the biggest obstacle to the growth of Major League Soccer.

Cantona was unveiled yesterday as the nominal director of soccer for the Cosmos, the rights for which have been bought by the former Tottenham director Paul Kemsley and are a long-term project which will become a competitive club in time. It is intended the Cosmos will enter the MLS at some point and eventually compete for the best players in the world.

To that end they have appointed David Beckham's former personal manager Terry Byrne, regarded as one of the best-connected men in world football. It will be Byrne's job to recruit players – at first those near the end of their careers – for exhibition matches next season with a view to joining the professional game the following year.

It is anticipated that Cosmos will eventually compete with the top European clubs for the best players in the world but that would be possible only if they were to be exempted from the MLS salary cap which permits franchises to spend only about £1.4m on wages annually with the addition of a "designated" player, who is paid outside of that budget.

However, those behind the Cosmos are confident they would be able to persuade the conservative MLS to change. The Cosmos were part of the original North American Soccer League (NASL) in the 1970s and 1980s when they attracted players such as Pele, now the Cosmos honorary president, and Franz Beckenbauer at the end of their careers.

The Cosmos have also bought the David Beckham academies in America prompting suggestions that the player himself will join them at some point. Cantona said yesterday: "I will do everything that I can to help us first find our way to regain the number one position in the United States and then for us to become one of the best clubs in the world over the coming years."